The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they have begun accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet through the ReConnect Program, starting Wednesday.
Eligible applicants are state, local or territory governments; corporations; Native American Tribes; limited liability companies and cooperative organizations.
This funding is available for projects that serve rural areas where at least 90 percent of the households lack broadband service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). USDA will give funding priority to projects that will serve people in low-density rural areas and areas lacking internet access services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload).
Applicants must commit to building facilities capable of providing broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in a proposed service area at the same time. In making funding decisions, USDA will also consider the economic needs of the community to be served; the extent to which a provider will offer affordable service options; a project’s commitment to strong labor standards; and whether a project is serving Tribal lands or is submitted by a local government, Tribal government, non-profit or cooperative.
Applications for funding must be submitted through USDA Rural Development’s online application system on the ReConnect webpage.
For additional information, see the Oct. 25, 2021, Federal Register.