The American Broadband Initiative recently released a Progress Report detailing broadband accomplishments across the country, and showing significant achievements in removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and leveraging public resources for broadband expansion. USDA successes are highlighted in the report.
“High-speed broadband internet connectivity, or e-Connectivity, is a cornerstone of healthy and prosperous communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
The Progress Report highlights USDA’s Accomplishments in the last year in deploying high-speed broadband across rural America:
• USDA, through its ReConnect program, has awarded more than $744 million in funds through March 2020 to support more than 80 broadband projects benefiting more than 430,000 rural residents in 34 states.
• USDA worked with FCC to establish processes to coordinate awards for rural broadband deployment to ensure that USDA-funded grants do not overlap with the FCC’s $20 Billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) or the $9 Billion 5G Fund for Rural America.
• USDA developed a public map viewer that displays basic information, such as location, site designation, and contact information for all communications sites located on National Forest System lands. Additionally, the data was provided to the Department of Interior for use in their JOEL map.
• USDA partnered with GSA to finalize a revised Standard Form (SF-299), making this Common Application Form suitable for telecommunications purposes.
• USDA published a final rule in April 2020 to implement the 2018 Farm Bill, which streamlined the Forest Service’s procedures for evaluating applications to locate or modify communications facilities on lands they manage.
Of the 60 commitments included in the original Milestones Report, 48 (80%) have been successfully completed. The remaining 12 commitments are in progress. Read the Progress Report.
The Department of Agriculture shares leadership of the ABI with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Economic Council, and the White House Offices of American Innovation, Management and Budget, and Science and Technology Policy.