MAINE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin taking applications for the second round of $550 million in ReConnect Program loan and grant funding. These funds will enable the federal government to continue to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service, according to the USDA, in a news release.
Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload. Beginning Friday, ReConnect funding applications can be submitted at www.usda.gov/reconnect.
Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Through the ReConnect Program, USDA is making available approximately $200 million for grants, as well as up to $200 million for loan and grant combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans.
Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites and schools.
“Increased access to broadband holds the key to connecting underserved Maine communities to opportunities that can assist with job growth, economic development, telehealth and more, helping to bring prosperity to our rural areas.” said USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs, in the release.
To assist potential providers with their applications, USDA is hosting technical assistance and training webinars across the country. To see an updated list of dates and locations, or to register for a workshop or webinar, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect/events.
So far in round one of the program, USDA has announced $343,429,703 in grant and loan funding for high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide. The funded service areas include a total of 79,534 rural households.
USDA will continue to announce round one investment over the course of the coming weeks. To see latest investment information, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect/awardees.
For more information, contact Timothy Brooks, General Field Representative, at email@example.com.