The Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack, announced that the department has started accepting applications for up to $ 1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas access High-speed Internet.

A press release says the announcement follows the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides nearly $ 2 billion in additional funding for the ReConnect program. The USDA plans to issue a new funding opportunity notice to make the additional funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law available in 2022.

“High speed internet is the new electricity,” said Vilsack. “It must be reliable, affordable and accessible to everyone. The funding that USDA is making available – through the current application process and through the nearly $ 2 billion in additional funding that will be provided to this program through the bipartite infrastructure law – will go a long way towards achieving this goal in the near future. rural America. These are just two of the latest investments in historic infrastructure from the Biden-Harris administration. Expanding the availability of broadband in rural areas will help create jobs, help farmers use precision farming technologies, expand access to health care and education, and creating economic opportunities for millions of rural Americans across the country.

ReConnect Program USDA has made $ 1.15 billion in funding available through the ReConnect program. Eligible candidates are state, local or territorial governments; companies; Native American tribes; limited liability companies; and cooperative organizations.

This funding, which does not include the nearly $ 2 billion bipartite infrastructure law, is available for projects that serve rural areas where at least 90 percent of households do not have broadband service at home. speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). USDA will prioritize funding for projects that serve populations in low-density rural areas and areas without Internet access services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload).

Applicants must commit to building facilities capable of providing broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps (upload and download) to each location in a service area offered at the same time. In making funding decisions, the USDA will also take into account 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 strict labor standards; and whether a project serves tribal lands or is submitted by a local government, tribal government, non-profit organization or cooperative.

Funding applications should be submitted through the USDA Rural Development online application system on the ReConnect webpage at .

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