Tularosa communications awarded Broadband grant. Otero and Lincoln counties to receive fiber optic internet.

Tularosa Communications, along with several other internet service providers that are a part of the Office of Broadband and Expansion (OBAE) were awarded grant funding by the Connect New Mexico Pilot Program for four projects in Alamogordo, Silvery City, Gallup and several others.

The pilot program grants up to $117 million administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury to underserved communities to expand broadband.

The communities that will benefit have income levels and poverty rates below state and national averages.

Long standing internet service provider's like SWC Telesolutions (dba Ethos Broadband), Tularosa Communications, Western New Mexico Telephone Company, and Valley Telecom Group had projects funded through the grant, according to a news release by Tularosa Communications.

Tularosa Communications will also contribute to delivering a fiber network to 1,000 unserved residents that include Otero and Lincoln counties.

“The grant funds will be used to build a 76-mile high-capacity fiber distribution network to bring gigabit speeds to approximately 1,100 homes in parts of Lincoln and Otero counties,” said General Manager of Tularosa Communications Joshua Beug.

According to a news release, the projects are expected to cover 10 qualifying rural communities and over 2,500 premises. Approximately 80% of the targeted premises are unserved, which means they are relegated to speeds below 25/3 megabits per second (Mbps). The other 20% are underserved, which means speeds for internet range from 25/3 Mbps to 100/20 Mbps.

Communities that will benefit include Columbus, Gila Hot Springs, Thoreau, Bent, Sun Valley, Mimbres, Lake Roberts and as mentioned above west Alamogordo, west Gallup, and Silver City.

The urgency to bring universal broadband to the state follows Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's commitment to provide high-speed networks to rural communities.

“In my State of the State speech, I stressed my steadfast commitment to bring high-speed broadband networks to every unserved and underserved New Mexico community, no matter how rural. These projects showcase that commitment and our broader goal of universal broadband availability across all of New Mexico,” said Lujan Grisham.

According to the pilot program, the project's total is $24.5 million and $17.3 million of which is grant funding.

Due to outdated technologies many small towns like Columbus, a town of 1,400 residents, rely on DSL via copper lines. Valley TeleCom Group will install fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) in order for Columbus to have high internet speeds.

“By investing in infrastructure that brings reliable and affordable internet to those in poverty-stricken areas, we are opening doors to education, healthcare, and economic growth that were previously closed,” said Steve Metts, CEO of Valley TeleCom Group.

There are several other applications for grants that are still under consideration and will be announced in late April according the news release.

“Together, we are breaking down the long-standing walls of the digital divide,” said Lujan Grisham.

Juan Corral can be reached at JCorral@gannett.com or on twitter at @Juan36Corr.

This article originally appeared on Alamogordo Daily News: Grant will fund fiber optic internet in Lincoln, Otero counties