The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now accepting online applications for funding through the new ReConnect Rural Broadband Pilot Program. Those funds will 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 download and 1 megabit per second upload.
Congress first appropriated funds in 2018 for the new Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program, known as ReConnect. The program will be a proof-of-concept, enabling the USDA to create and implement innovative options for rural connectivity by providing various financial packages to customers.
In the first round of funding the USDA is making available at least $600 million in rural-broadband projects -- through $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans.
There are application deadlines for each of the funding packages.
- May 31 -- for projects seeking federal funds from the grants-only package
- June 21 -- for projects seeking a combination of federal loans and grants
- July 12 -- for projects seeking 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 funding for ReConnect will be announced later this year. Visit www.rd.usda.gov for more information.