Broadband Grant/Loan Opportunity Available Through USDA

Feb 05, 2020

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering up to $550 million loan and grant program to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. The ReConnect Program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband.  USDA will make available approximately $200 million for grants, as well as $200 million for loan and grant combinations, and $200 million for low-interest loans.  Applications are due at USDA on or before March 16, 2020. Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people or an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants with 90% of the households broadband access where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload. This 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.

For More Information visit Reconnect

https://www.usda.gov/reconnect

USDA Application Due Date:

March 16, 2020

 

Upcoming Workshop

https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/events

 

Eligible Service Area:

To be eligible to receive ReConnect Program funds, the proposed service area must meet the following criteria:

  • Lack Sufficient Access to Broadband: At least 90% of households in the proposed funded service area (PFSA) must lack access to fixed, terrestrial broadband service of least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
  • Be in a Rural Area: A rural area is any area that is not located in a city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants or an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. If an applicant is applying for multiple PFSAs, each service area will be evaluated on a stand-alone basis.

 

Who May Apply

The entities considered eligible to apply for assistance under the ReConnect Program included:

  • Cooperatives, non-profits, or mutual associations
  • For-profit corporations or limited liability companies
  • States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof
  • A territory or possession of the United States
  • An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. § 450b)).

 

Eligible Funding Purposes

Award Funds may be used to pay for the following costs:

  • To fund the construction or improvement of buildings, land, and other facilities that are required to provide broadband service.
    If other services will be provided over these facilities, then award funds may also be used to acquire the additional equipment. For example, award funds may be used to purchase equipment that is required to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, 47 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq (CALEA).
  • To fund reasonable pre-application expenses.
    Funding for pre-application expenses may not exceed five percent of the award amount. If the funding category applied for has a grant component, then grant funds will be used for this purpose; otherwise, loan funds may be applied. All pre-application expenses must be included in the first request for award funds. These expenses may be reimbursed only if they are incurred after the publication date of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and are properly documented. An exception to this requirement is in the case that an applicant applied for funding in round one, pre-application expenses may be eligible for reimbursement under this second round of funding if the expenses support the round two application. However, RUS reserves the right to accept or reject expenses associated with round one.
  • To fund the acquisition and improvement of an existing system that is currently providing insufficient broadband service (eligible for 100 percent loan requests only).
    Funding for the acquisition of an existing system may not exceed 40 percent of the award amount. After improvements are made, the upgraded system must meet the requirements of this FOA.
  • To fund terrestrial-based facilities that support the provision of satellite broadband service.