The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking comments on a final rule to expand broadband service in rural areas by simplifying program requirements to make more companies eligible to participate in USDA's ReConnect Program.
The ReConnect Program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas that do not currently have sufficient internet access.
The rule will eliminate paperwork requirements and shorten the application process. It will also enable applicants to submit letters of credit as proof of their financial ability to complete a project. These changes are expected to enable more companies to participate in the ReConnect Program, resulting in more broadband coverage in rural areas.
Comments must be submitted through www.regulations.gov by April 27, 2021. The proposed changes will take effect at the end of the 60-day comment period on April 27, 2021.
For additional information, see page 11603 of the February 26, 2021, Federal Register. Questions related to USDA Telecommunications Programs in Oregon and Washington State may be directed to John Holman, Telecommunications General Field Representative, (503) 310-7692. Those with project proposals outside of Oregon and Washington should contact USDA Rural Development in the corresponding state.