April 4, 2019

USDA Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect)-Due May 31

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program)

More information
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Take a webinar on May 28. 

Due: May 31, 2019

In 2018, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (the Act), which established a new broadband loan and grant pilot program, now called the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program). The Act appropriated a budget authority of $600,000,000 to be used on an expedited basis.

One of the essential goals of the ReConnect Program is to expand broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access, defined as 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.The first round of applicants have three separate funding categories to choose from: 100 percent (%) loan, 50% loan/50% grant, or 100% grant.

Applicants will be limited to one of the applications above for this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). To give potential applicants adequate time to access technical assistance from USDA staff and its partners, the first application deadline has been pushed back to May 31, 2019 or later.

Eligibility: The following entities are eligible to apply for assistance under the ReConnect Program:
Non-profit entities
For-profit corporations
Limited liability companies Cooperative or mutual organizations
States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof
A territory or possession of the United States, and
An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. § 450b)).

To be eligible for a 100% loan or 50% loan/50% grant, the proposed funded service area in an application must be in a rural area where 90% of the households do not have sufficient broadband access. To be eligible for a 100% grant, the proposed funded service area in an application must be in a rural area where 100% of the households do not have sufficient broadband access.  Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and
municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service.

Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites and schools.

No matter which funding type the applicant requests, the proposed network must be capable of providing service to every premise in the proposed funded service area at a speed of at a minimum, 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

Please use this online form to contact USDA and see the FAQs or USDA resource guide for additional information.