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USDA accepting applications for high-speed internet funding

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Up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants available to help people living in rural communities without internet access.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA is accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet.

This announcement comes on the heels of the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides another nearly $2 billion in additional funding for the ReConnect program. USDA anticipates issuing a new Notice of Funding Opportunity to make the additional funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available in 2022.

“High-speed internet is the new electricity,” Vilsack said. “Expanding broadband availability in rural areas will help create jobs, help farmers use precision agriculture technologies, expand access to health care and educational services, and create economic opportunities for millions of rural Americans across the country.”

ReConnect Program

The $1.15 billion in funding is made available through the ReConnect Program. Money 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).

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 Federal Register.

Source: USDAwhich is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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