USDA announces $550 million for rural high-speed internet
On Dec. 12, the USDA announced the availability of a second round of $550 million in the Reconnect Pilot Program funding appropriated by Congress. The application window for this round of funding is set to open Jan. 31, 2020.
The USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.
A full description of 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program funding is available on page 67913 of the Dec. 12 Federal Register. To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America.
USDA received 146 applications between May 31 and July 12, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. To date, USDA has awarded $191 million through the ReConnect program with offers out to 47 additional potential recipients totaling more than $600 million in investments. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.