USDA ReConnect Broadband Pilot Accepting Applications

In the first round of funding, the agency is making at least $600 million available in rural broadband projects via $200 million in loan and grant combinations and $200 million in low-interest loans.

by Ray Scherer, St. Joseph News-Press / May 1, 2019

(TNS) — The USDA has announced it is now accepting online applications for funding through a ReConnect Rural Broadband Pilot Program.

The funding will enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build a modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient Internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said reliable high-speed broadband Internet is vital to improvements in education, health care, agriculture and manufacturing.

Congress began appropriating funds for the new Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect) in 2018.

In the first round of funding, the agency is making at least $600 million available in rural broadband projects via $200 million in loan and grant combinations and $200 million in low-interest loans.

Application deadlines for each of the funding packages are as follows: Friday, May 31, for projects that seek federal funds from the grants-only package; Friday, June 21, for projects seeking a combination of federal loans and grants; and Friday, July 12, for projects that seek low-interest federal loans.

The $600 million appropriation from Congress more than doubles federal funding available through USDA’s longstanding broadband programs. Future rounds of ReConnect funding will be announced later in the year.

ReConnect funding applications can be submitted at reconnect.usda.gov.

©2019 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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