The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently validated the importance of broadband by supporting connections in rural, underserved areas.

The agency announced it was pledging $85.8 million in new funding to help close the gaps in broadband coverage across the country, particularly in rural areas. Most of the money is in the form of loans, but $11 million is slated for Community Connect grants. The USDA said that money will mainly be used in areas where broadband companies have so far been unable or reluctant to invest, due to a perceived lack of profitability.

“Broadband is fundamental to expanding economic opportunity and job creation in rural areas, and it is as vital to rural America’s future today as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. The Secretary went on to point out that the investments his agency is committing to this program are crucial in improving the quality of education and health care in the often underserved rural areas of the country.

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