The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development received requests for more than $635 million in loan-grant combination funding in the first round of the ReConnect Pilot Program, which provides funding for areas that have insufficient broadband service. The 53 applications received represent 1,099 farms and 859 businesses in rural areas, across 33 states.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA, to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural areas, and on December 13, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the rules of the program.
On March 29, 2019, USDA began accepting applications.
Funds are awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities, such as first responders, health care sites and schools.
For this first round, USDA made available up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans. The application deadlines passed for grant-only projects and loan and grant combinations, however loan-only applications are still being accepted through July 12 here.
June 26, 2019