How the USDA is Improving Rural Broadband Development Through Its ReConnect Program

Bowling Green, KY. (December 5, 2019) – Over the past couple months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested in rural broadband development across the United States through its ReConnect Loan and Grant Program. According to the USDA, this program offers “unique federal financing options in the form of grants, loans, and combinations thereof to create or improve rural e-Connectivity for rural customers across America.”

“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy, in a recent USDA press release.

As of Dec. 5, 2019, the USDA program has invested $191,890,380 in 16 states for its first round of funding. These investments will bring improvement to broadband infrastructure in the country’s most rural areas.

Tennessee was the first state to receive money in this second round of funding, which U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Oct. 18, 2019. Tennessee’s Forked Deer Electric Cooperative was awarded a grant to provide 347 households with high-speed internet (broadband) access. The Volunteer State was the first of many that would receive support from the USDA.

Over the past month and a half, the program has continued to award millions of dollars in grants and loans to rural America. The states that received the largest funding are Missouri and Southern Iowa with $41.6 million combined, North Carolina with $23.7 million, and Alaska with $18.88 million. These are some of the country’s most unserved and underserved areas when it comes to high-speed internet.

Illinois and Alabama are the most recent states to receive funding. Announced just yesterday, the USDA awarded Illinois’s Wabash Telephone Cooperative $12.8 million — half of which is a loan, the other half a grant loan — to deploy fiber-optic cable. This is expected to reach 1,684 households and around 70 other organizations. Late this afternoon, the USDA announced that Alabama’s Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Millry Telephone Company, Inc., Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., and National Telephone of Alabama, Inc. were collectively awarded $62.3 million in grants and loans.

Other states that have received funding to date in this second round of funding are; Colorado, Kansas, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

The USDA will continue to roll out approved projects in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for the USDA website new release page, which is updated daily with new announcements.

Connected Nation also shares USDA press releases on our social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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USDA Invests $18.88 Million in Rural Broadband for Alaska Families

ReConnect Program Awardees

Funding Amount for Each State

Tennessee – $2.85 million

Missouri & Iowa – $41.6 million combined

North Carolina – $23.7 million

Alaska – $18.88 million

Illinois – $12.8 million

Alabama – $62.3 million

Colorado & Utah – $5.13 million combined

Kansas – $5.2 million

New York – $4.3 million

Oklahoma – $4.2 million

Oregon – $6 million

South Carolina – $9.75 million

South Dakota – $7.2 million

Virginia – $3.8 million

Wyoming – $4.79 million

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