The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced $25.8 million in ReConnect broadband program funding. The USDA ReConnect awards went to projects in rural Arkansas and West Virginia.

In Arkansas, The Yelcot Telephone Company will receive $3.4 million equally divided between a grant and a loan to upgrade copper infrastructure to a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that will connect 548 households in Baxter and Marion counties. In Stone County, The Mountain View Telephone Company will use a $3.7 million grant for a FTTH deployment. The project has the potential to connect 702 households along with 15 pre-subscribed farms and a pre-subscribed business.

In West Virginia, The Harrison Rural Electrification Association will use a $18.7 million grant to build an FTTP network that is expected to connect 6,320 households, five educational facilities, a critical community facility and about 383 farms across five counties.

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These were not the first USDA ReConnect awards in the two states. Previously, the Mountain View Telephone Company in Arkansas had gotten a grant of $3.75 million. In West Virginia, The Harrison Rural Electrification Association had gotten a grant of almost $18.5 million; the Ohio Valley Industrial and Business Development Corp. had gotten a loan/grant award of a bit more than $2 million and the Tyler County Development Authority had gotten a loan/grant of a bit more than $3.5 million. In all the USDA has awarded more than $343 million to this point.

The first phase of the ReConnect program, which was created in March 2018, consists of $600 million equally divided between loans, grants and combined loan/grants. The second round of funding was announced last month. The application period for this phase, which consists of $550 million, is between January 31 and March 15.

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