Telecommunications companies in 16 states will share more than $103 million in federal funding to help expand broadband Internet access to those areas of rural America that haven’t been reached by the high-speed service or are underserved, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

Policymakers, public interest groups and telecom companies are seeking to bridge the digital divide by reaching even the most remote pockets of the U.S. with broadband internet, hoping to improve economic and educational opportunities there.

“There’s a big gap that remains between rural and urban areas because it’s just hard to make a business case in rural areas,” said Jonathan Adelstein, the agriculture department’s rural utilities service administrator, in a conference call with reporters. “Rural areas’ future depends upon access to broadband and we’re not where we need to be today