CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Internet providers in New Hampshire will receive more than $25 million in federal funding over 10 years to expand broadband access across in rural parts of the state, the Federal Communications Commission announced this week.

The funding comes from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, an FCC initiative to expand high-speed internet in areas that now have little or no access. More than $20 billion is being awarded nationwide over 10 years.

New Hampshire is among many states with rural populations that have struggled with limited internet access during the pandemic. In August, the state announced it would use $16 million in federal virus relief to expand broadband access.

Four companies won bids through the FCC program to expand broadband access in New Hampshire. It's estimated to bring high-speed internet access to more than 17,000 homes and small business.

New Hampshire's congressional delegation applauded the announcement, saying the pandemic has underscored the need to close the digital gap between urban and rural areas.

“These federal dollars will help expand internet access to Granite Staters, which is even more urgent amid this pandemic that has forced many of us to move our work and school online,” said U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat.

The program will also steer $71 million to Maine, along with $32 million each to Massachusetts and Vermont.