U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced the Department is extending to March 9, 2022, the application deadline for funding to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of rural Americans nationwide. USDA is making the funding available under the ReConnect Program.
“Helping ensure that everyone who lives and works in rural America has access to high-speed internet is one of the Biden-Harris Administration’s top priorities,” Torres Small said. “Today’s extension of the ReConnect Program deadline will help ensure that all applicants have the time they need to secure this critical funding. I encourage all eligible parties to apply for this assistance.”
Through this funding opportunity, USDA is making available $200 million in ReConnect Program loans, $250 million in loan/grant combinations, $350 million in grants with a 25% matching requirement, and $350 million in grants with no matching requirement for Tribes and projects in socially vulnerable communities.
USDA’s actions to help expand broadband access in rural areas are key components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to help America Build Back Better in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please see the Federal Register to review full details of this ReConnect Program funding opportunity.
In the coming months, USDA plans to begin making available the additional $2 billion in rural broadband funding allocated to USDA by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant 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). USDA will also consider, among other things, 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, nonprofit or cooperative.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.