USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Phil Cowee has announced that the agency is accepting applications for grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved rural communities with minimal service. An estimated $30 million is available nationwide.
"Broadband and internet access are essential to the economic prosperity of rural communities," Cowee said. “Investing in broadband can help a community address education and public safety issues while improving business enterprise and social services.”
USDA is accepting applications through May 14 for the Community Connect program. An Application Guide is available online. Grants from $100,000 to $3 million are available to eligible state and local governments, cooperatives, private corporation or limited liability company organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis, and Indian tribes as defined in 25 U.S.C. 450b. Applicants must be able to provide a 15 percent match on the desired grant amount.
Eligible areas are those with Minimum Broadband Service of less than 10 megabits downstream speed and less than 1 megabits upstream speed for both fixed and mobile broadband services. Awardees must use USDA funding to offer free broadband service to all critical community facilities in their proposed service areas for two years and provide a community center with free broadband service for two years.
The funds must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum rate-of-data transmission of 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream, which is the speed benchmark that the Federal Communications Commission has officially adopted for broadband connectivity.
In Nevada, the communities of Gabbs and Walker Lake, along with the Fallon Tribe and Washoe Tribe have benefitted from USDA's Community Connect funding. Each was without broadband and developed a community center with internet service; thereby benefiting education, emergency response and community services.
Paper applications can be mailed to:
Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval
Rural Utilities Service Telecommunications Program
1400 Independence Ave SW Room 2844, Stop 1597
Washinton, DC 20250-1597
Electronic applications are made through: www.grants.gov.
USDA will be hosting online webinars on the Community Connect grant April 5 and April 10. Please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 720-0800 with any questions about the webinars.
For more details on this grant opportunity, see page 11494 of the March 15 Federal Register (PDF, 247 KB).