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USDA Broadband Changes May Alter Speed Requirements, Ease Access in Rural Areas

Kelly Clark
Carson City
Release Date

At USDA’s ReConnect Broadband workshop Nov. 19 in Reno, participants learned about regulations that may make it easier for rural communities to access federal funds and increase broadband build-out speeds.

Rocky Chenelle, Nevada’s general field representative for Nevada Rural Development, provided information on three USDA broadband programs: ReConnect, Community Connect, and the Distance Learning Telemedicine program.

He said regulations now under review may alter speed requirements and ease the impact of existing cellular or satellite signal in a service area for project eligibility. In addition, Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for both the ReConnect broadband program and the Community Connect program are expected in early 2020.

Last fiscal year $600 million in program funds was made available for the ReConnect Broadband Program; another $550 million is slated for 2020.

USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Phil Cowee encouraged internet service providers, health care providers, and school administrators to review funding options.

“One of the major challenges we have in rural Nevada is a lack of broadband,” Cowee said. “It affects business enterprise, education, work force development and quality of life. If we want rural communities to succeed, they will need access to broadband.”

For more information contact Rocky Chenelle at rocky.chenelle@usda.gov

To assist with applications, the ReConnect Program now provides a valuable pre-planning mapping tool for communities to use to assess area speeds and determine eligibility.


Other online speed test and mapping resources include:

Viz Measurement Lab

Universal Service Mapping Tools

Federal Communications Commission Fixed Broadband Deployment Tool

Broadband Now

For more information, visit USDA program websites listed below:

ReConnect Grant/Combo/Loan:https://www.usda.gov/reconnect

Community Connect Grant:


Distance Learning Telemedicine Grant: