USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department is awarding $502 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet access in 20 states. The funding will be available for residents and businesses in rural America. Vilsack says improving high-speed broadband access will open up many opportunities to improve life in rural America.
“The opportunity for families, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities to have the latest and best technology to be able to access distance learning or telemedicine, business opportunities, and the needs of families with this very important 21st-century technology. Many parts of the country today still have limited internet access in terms of upload and download speeds that simply don’t allow for multiple uses at home, don’t accommodate distance learning, telemedicine, don’t allow businesses to expand market opportunities, and would not allow farmers the opportunity for precision agriculture.”
USDA is making the investments through the third funding round of the ReConnect Program.
“Congress has established the ReConnect Program in which we are working with providers to increase the upload and download speeds and the capacity of these networks to essentially handle what is called 100-100: 100 megabits per second upload and download speeds.”
He says round four of the funding will be available soon.
“These resources are divided between loans and grants, with roughly $141 million in loans and $360 million or so in grants. We anticipate and expect additional announcements in the very near future to add to that total. Just as a reminder, we initially had $1.15 billion available under round three of the ReConnect Program. We expect to announce the balance of that program very soon. We’d also like to remind folks of the fact that the application process for Round Four under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is still open and will remain so until November 2.”
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, go to rd.usda.gov.