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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is among the states that will benefit from federal dollars aimed at boosting broadband connectivity in rural areas.

USDA Rural Development New Mexico State Director Art Garcia says more than 60 percent of the state’s population is spread across more than 120,000 square miles (311,000 square kilometers), underscoring the importance of broadband.

Garcia said such investments are critical to rural residents, allowing them to access health care and employment.

New Mexico Junior College will receive more than $411,000 to connect to end-user sites in Tatum, Eunice, Lovington and Jal. This will help with the development of distance learning projects.

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Western New Mexico University will get nearly $192,000 to purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive distance learning services.