The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $63 million in ReConnect funding to bring broadband to rural areas of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi.

The four projects all are in the form of grants and feature fiber-to-the-premises networks:

  • Illinois: McDonough Telephone Cooperative is receiving $18 million to connect 1,583 people, 274 farms and 41 businesses in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties. The company will make access affordable through the FCC’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs.
  • Michigan: Alpha Enterprises Limited, Inc. is receiving $19.5 million connect 1,023 people, 19 businesses and 10 farms in Chippewa and Mackinac counties in Michigan also will offer service through the Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
  • Minnesota: Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative is receiving $10 million to connect 3,529 people, 71 businesses, 35 farms and two public schools in Hubbard, Itasca and St. Louis counties.
  • Mississippi: Uplink Internet LLC is receiving $15 to connect 2,340 people, 143 farms, 45 businesses and a public school in Coahoma, Quitman and Tunica counties.

The ReConnect funding program provides grants, loans and grant/loan hybrids. Applications must serve areas lacking download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps and commit to providing symmetrical 100 Mbps service to every location in its application.

The projects announced today come from the third round of funding, which totaled $1.7 billion. In all, the Department of Agriculture has invested $3.2 billion through the program to bring broadband to rural communities.

In September, the Department of Agriculture began accepting applications for the fourth round of the program. The round will total $1.15 billion, which includes $150 million in loans, $700 million in grants and $300 million in grant/loan combinations. The fourth round included several changes to the program that tended to make the requirements less stringent

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