rural setting

The USDA has made awards totaling $167 million in 12 states to help expand broadband in rural areas through the ReConnect program.

The states are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The second round of the program is funded by a $550 million Congressional allocation as well as funding for the program allocated since 2018, the USDA says.

The ReConnect program provides loans and grants “to construct, improve or acquire facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.” The program so far has pledged $1,509,997,454 in funding. In 2019, active awards were made to 76 entities in 33 states and territories. Last year, active awards were made to 105 entities in 37 states and territories.

In April 2020, $100 million was included in The CARES Act, which was passed in order to help the nation deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding allowed entities whose ReConnect applications failed to reapply.

The press release about the USDA ReConnect program awards offered three examples of the investments announced this week:

  • Gila Local Exchange Carrier, Inc., which does business as Alluvion Communications, will use a $14.8 million grant to deploy a FTTP network in rural Arizona. The service area includes 5,547 households, 22,645 people, 142 businesses, a school, a health care facility and six farms spread over 59 square miles.
  • Central Virginia Services Inc. will use a $14.1 million grant to deploy a FTTP network in rural Virginia. The service area includes 37 educational facilities, three health care facilities, 14 essential community facilities, 4,139 households, 13,886 people, 193 businesses and 65 farms spread over 65 square miles.
  • Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation will use a $10.6 million loan and a $10.6 million grant to deploy a FTTP network in rural Georgia. The funded service area includes 6,665 households, 18,789 people, 25 educational facilities, 17 essential community facilities, 10 health care facilities, 573 businesses and 207 farms spread over 246 square miles.

Invitations to apply for the third round of the program will start to be issued in the coming weeks, according to the press release.

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