USDA’s ReConnect Broadband Pilot Program Announced

Transmitter tower in a rural area – BARN istock photo

USDA has announced our new Broadband Pilot Program, the ReConnect Program.  The program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband.  The awards made under this program will bring high-speed broadband to rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.

This pilot program will generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible, including homes, community facilities for healthcare and public safety, schools, libraries, farms, ranches, factories, and other production sites.

USDA will make available approximately $200 million for grants (applications due to USDA by April 29), as well as $200 million for loan and grant combinations (applications due May 29), and $200 million for low-interest loans (applications due by June 28).

Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

Approved projects must create access speeds of at least 25 mbps upload and 3 mbps download. Priority will be awarded for projects that propose to deliver higher-capacity connections to rural homes, businesses and farms. USDA seeks to stretch these funds as far as possible by leveraging existing networks and systems without overbuilding existing services greater than 10/1 mpbs.

The first training webinar is on  Thursday, December 20 at Noon Mountain Time. In depth live training events are in planning stages.  This introductory webinar will provide a high-level overview of the funding opportunity available under the ReConnect Program. USDA Rural Development staff will discuss types of funding available, eligibility provisions, notice of proposed service area, and evaluation factors. To join the webinar on December 20, click here.

Additional webinars on ReConnect will be held in January 2019 including:

Tuesday, January 8                     Thursday, January 10

Tuesday, January 15                   Thursday, January 17

Wednesday, January 23              Wednesday, January 30

To find out more information visit https://reconnect.usda.gov/s/

SOURCE

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.