USDA invests $146M in rural broadband infrastructure this week alone
This week, the USDA pledged about $145.8 million in rural-broadband spending in seven states.
Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced Tuesday (Jan. 28) the agency had invested $60.9 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure to create or enhance connectivity for more than 11,000 rural households, 81 farms, 73 businesses, 16 educational facilities, 12 "critical community facilities" and two healthcare providers in rural Missouri.
Building on Ramps to the Future
Rural areas in multiple states, including Kentucky, will soon see higher broadband speeds, opening up their homes and businesses to new operator services like managed WiFi; managed security; and cloud-based, IoT-focused offerings of today and tomorrow.
(Source: Photo by Brandon Randolph, Pexels)
This marked the debut of first-round funding in USDA's ReConnect Pilot Program, which offers loans and grants to operators, ISPs and other service providers delivering high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas of the United States.
The ReConnect Pilot also is available to providers in:
- Louisiana: Announced on Jan. 28 by USDA Rural Development Louisiana State Director Roy Holleman, this $15.5-million project will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 2,609 rural households, 12 pre-subscribed businesses and 16 pre-subscribed farms in Iberville, Pointe Coupee and St. Landry parishes/
- Missouri: LaVoy said $60.9 million would go to improve the state's broadband infrastructure, serving 11,000-plus rural households, 81 farms, 73 businesses, 16 educational facilities, 12 critical community facilities and two healthcare facilities.
- Washington: About 250 homes or home-based businesses in Mason County will benefit from the infusion of in ReConnect Pilot funds, said USDA Rural Development Washington State Director Kirk Pearson on Jan. 29.
- Kentucky: That same day, LaVoy said the Bluegrass State had received $55.3 million to improve or provide (for the first time) high-speed, high bandwidth and low latency connectivity to more than 12,250 rural households and nearly 100 farms and businesses across Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
- Arizona:USDA Rural Development Arizona State Director Jack Smith said 1,492 rural households, 27 pre-subscribed businesses, six educational facilities, four pre-subscribed farms, three critical community facilities and a health care center would find their broadband infrastructure and services benefit from an infusion of $1.6 million.
- Maine: Today, LaVoy announced a $9.87 million investment in rural, coastal and island areas of Maine. The high-speed infrastructure funds will support more than 4,527 households and 215 businesses.
Dipping into the pool of opportunities
To help operators, co-ops and other providers consider their options for ReConnect participation (especially if looking at traditional trenching methods for rolling out fiber in unfriendly ground), USDA gives prospective partners a map by Arcgis and ESRI to track data about the status of their requests, competitors' standings and more.
USDA broke down the information by 100% grants (under review and approved); 100% loans (under review and approved); and 50% grant, 50% loan under both stages of the approval process.
USDA began accepting applications today for the second round of ReConnect funding at www.usda.gov/reconnect.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News
(Home page image: Photo of Booth Bay Harbor, Maine by Christopher Rego, Flickr
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