USDA Announces Second Round of Rural High-Speed Broadband Funding

Name
Justin Wilkes
City
Jackson
Release Date
Jan 22, 2020

USDA Announces Second Round of Rural High-Speed Broadband Funding

ReConnect Pilot Program Funding Available to Increase Rural e-Connectivity in Mississippi

   JACKSON, Jan. 16, 2020 – State Director for Rural Development John Rounsaville announced that approximately $550 million in funding for rural high-speed broadband projects under round two of the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) is set to open Jan. 31.

  “Since the launch of the ReConnect program, we’ve hosted events throughout the state, including our Rural Broadband Summit Series, aimed at raising awareness of funding opportunities to get Mississippi communities better connected,” Rounsaville said.  “This second round of funding will help us further close the digital divide that exists in rural communities.”

  In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. To date, USDA has awarded $191 million through the ReConnect program. These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.

  “Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said at a rural broadband event in December.

  For 2020, USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all three funding types (grant, combination loan and grant and loan) will be accepted in the same application window, which will close March 16, 2020.

  For all funding categories, the proposed funded service area must be in an area where 90% of the households do not have sufficient access to broadband. Applicants must propose to build a network capable of providing service to all premises in the proposed funded service area at a speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

  A full description of 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program funding is available on page 67913 of the Dec. 12, 2019, Federal Register (PDF, 336 KB). To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit http://www.usda.gov/reconnect.

  For questions about the ReConnect program and applications call 202- 720-2791 or send the question by email to askusda@usda.gov.

  Apply for ReConnect funding at https://reconnect.usda.gov from Jan. 31 until 3 p.m. on March 16 for all three funding types: grant, combination grant and loan and loan.

  USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov