Three small providers have been awarded over $40 million in funding for broadband deployments through the USDA ReConnect program. The awards were made in the fourth round of the program, which has a total budget of $1.15 billion.
Round four rules call for providers to deploy service at speeds of at least 100 Mbps symmetrically. Eligible areas include those where most households do not have access to service at speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream.
The USDA began accepting applications in round four in September. The filing deadline was in November.
USDA received applications requesting funding totaling three times more than the funding available.
A portion of the funding will be made available as loans, a portion as grants and a portion as grant/loan combinations. All the awards announced today are grants and all are for companies in New Mexico.
Grant recipients must cover 25% of program costs in matching funds, unless 90% of locations in the area to be served have insufficient broadband, in which case there is no matching funds requirement. There also is no matching fund requirement for certain deployments by Alaska native corporations or tribal governments or for deployments in certain other areas.
ReConnect Round 4 Grants
The three providers receiving funds are Western New Mexico Telephone Company, ENMR Telephone Cooperative and Penasco Valley Telephone Cooperative. According to a press release:
- The Western New Mexico Telephone Company Inc. is receiving a $23.8 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to people in Catron County. The company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs (ACP). It also will provide a $34.99 monthly plan with 75 megabits per second upload and download speeds for subscribers within the project area who are enrolled in the ACP.
- The E.N.M.R. Telephone Cooperative is receiving a $2.6 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to people in De Baca, Guadalupe, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Socorro and Union counties. E.N.M.R. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in De Baca, Guadalupe, San Miguel and Socorro counties.
- The Peñasco Valley Telephone (PVT) Cooperative is receiving a $13.9 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to 550 people, 48 farms and 11 businesses in Chaves, Eddy, Otero and Lincoln counties. PVT will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). PVT also offers a program that can provide free internet for households participating in the ACP. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties.
Funding for the fourth round of the ReConnect program came through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. An additional $750 million made available to ReConnect through the act will be made available in a future funding round.