Administration Invests $86 Million in Rural Broadband in Eight States

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $86 million in rural broadband service for 17,000 people and businesses in eight states. USDA is providing loans to six telecommunications providers to build, expand and improve broadband services in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Below are examples of projects that USDA is funding through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program:

  • The Ardmore Telephone Company Inc. is receiving a $20 million loan to install 435 miles of Fiber-to-the-Premises in Ardmore, New Market and Elkmont, AL; and in Minor Hill and McBurg in TN.
  • In Indiana, the Pulaski-White Rural Telephone Cooperative is receiving a $19 million loan to install 355 miles of Fiber-to-the-Home technology in the Buffalo and Star City exchanges.
  • In Wisconsin, the Chibardun Telephone Cooperative Inc. is receiving a $10 million loan to install 328.5 miles of Fiber-to-the-Premises to serve the rural areas of the Prairie Farm and Sand Creek exchanges.  

Since October 2019, USDA has invested $744 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to 172,000 households, 19,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities in 34 states. 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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program is one of several USDA rural broadband programs. On April 20, 2020, USDA announced the department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in round two of the ReConnect Pilot Program. The second round, according to the USDA, will enable it to “implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with partners and continuing the success of the first round of funding.” The application window for round two closed on April 15.

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