The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a significant expansion of access to high-speed internet, making $1.15 billion available to help people in rural communities across the country get access to high-speed internet through the ReConnect Program.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says this new upcoming round of ReConnect funding will include 100% grants in certain cases.
Vilsack talked about the importance of bringing high speed internet in rural areas.
Vilsack said USDA will begin accepting applications on November 24 for loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas.
To be eligible for funding, applicants must serve an area without broadband service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload), and commit to building facilities capable of providing broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area. In making funding decisions, USDA will prioritize projects that will serve low-density rural areas with locations lacking internet access services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload). In making funding decisions, the USDA will also consider, among other things, the economic needs of the community to be served; the extent 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.