USDA Begins Accepting Grant to Provide High-Speed Internet in Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $1.15 billion in funding available through the ReConnect Program starting today, which will provide high-speed internet in rural communities. 

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,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It must be reliable, affordable, and available to everyone.”

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Vilsack added, “The funding USDA is making available – through the current application process and through the nearly $2 billion in additional funding that will be provided for this program by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – will go a long way toward reaching this goal in rural America.”

“These are just two of the latest of many historic infrastructure investments the Biden-Harris Administration is making,” he continued.

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“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.”

The department has started to accept applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet.

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.

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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.

Stay updated here for more news with us at the East County Gazette. 

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