Program 101

Applications are accepted through the RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program. An application guide will be made available soon which will provide information on the process for applying for this funding.

What does this program do?
Provides affordable financing to speed the deployment in rural areas of dual-use public safety/commercial wireless networks, addresses homeland security communications needs along America's rural international borders, and finances enhanced 911 capabilities for carriers and communities.

Who may apply?
This program assists qualified applicants that are not otherwise able to obtain commercial credit on reasonable terms. Qualified applicants include:

  • Any entity eligible to borrow from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS)
  • Most state and local governmental entities
  • Federally recognized Tribes 
  • Emergency communications equipment providers that, at the sole discretion of RUS, offer adequate security for a loan that the state or local government with jurisdiction over the proposed project is prohibited by law from funding

What is an eligible area?
Areas that may be served include:

  • Rural areas and towns with 20,000 or fewer people
  • Rural areas that are not neither within nor included in an urbanized area contiguous to a city or town with a population greater than 50,000

How may the funds be used?
To finance facilities and equipment which expand, improve or provide:

  • Access to 911 services
  • Interoperable emergency communications, including multi-use networks that provide on-demand and real-time commercial or transportation information services in addition to emergency communications services
  • Homeland security communications
  • Transportation safety communications
  • Location technologies used outside an urbanized area
  • For additional details, see the Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR 1735

What kinds of funding are available?

  • Low-interest loans
  • Loan guarantees –  Contact your General Field Representative for a list of participating private lenders

What are the loan terms?

  • Loan Guarantees – Interest, payback and other terms are negotiated between the lender and borrower, subject to approval by the Rural Utilities Service
  • Direct Loans – Contact your Telecom Field Representative for details and current interest rates applicable for your project

Are there additional requirements?

  • Borrowers must have the legal authority to provide, construct, operate and  maintain the proposed facilities or services
  • All facilities financed with the aid of federal dollars must be used for a public purpose
  • Partnerships with other federal, state, local, private and non-profit entities are encouraged

How do we get started?

  • Applications for this program are accepted through your General Field Representative year round
  • Program Resources are available online (includes forms, guidance, certifications, etc.)

Who can answer questions about this program?

  • For questions about the Expansion of 911 Access Loan Program,  please call the Loan Origination and Approval Division at (202) 720-0800.
  • Contact your General Field Representative
  • Specialized technical assistance contacts are available in accounting, engineering and environmental requirements as needed to aid in the development of rural telephone services and to protect loan security

What governs this program?

  • Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended in 7 U.S.C. 901 et seq
  • 7CFR chapter 1700 et seq

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?
This program helps rural communities improve public safety through enhanced 911 capabilities. Advantages for rural residents, business and institutions include the ability to precisely locate rural wireless 911 callers in an emergency, contact 911 via text message, or send emergency responders real-time photos and video of accidents and crime scenes.

NOTE: Program details may change over time. Before you begin an application, please confirm you have the most current information by contacting your General Field Representative for assistance, or consult the program instructions listed in the section above titled "What Governs this Program?"

Forms & Resources

For questions about the Expansion of 911 Access Loan Program, please call the Loan Origination and Approval Division at (202) 720-0800.

Affirmation of Interim Rule as Final Rule: March 16, 2012 (pdf)