The USDA ReConnect Pilot Program this week announced it had awarded grants in North and South Carolina and South Dakota totaling $25.5 million.

The largest award was made in South Dakota. The Valley Telecommunications Cooperative will receive a grant of $9.5 million to deploy a FTTH network in Brookings, Kingsbury and Moody counties. The network will reach 1,750 households, 27 farms, 17 businesses and a critical care facility.

Comments from Julie Gross, the USDA Director of Rural Development for South Dakota, pointed to the value of creating the infrastructure. “Reliable, high-speed broadband internet e-Connectivity is essential to increasing access to specialized health care and education, connecting with friends and family, building or starting a business, or increasing productivity at your agricultural operation,” she said in a press release.

In North Carolina, Atlantic Telephone Membership Corp.’s Faster Columbus Advanced Connectivity for Communities, Education, Safety and Support (ACCESS) got a $7.9 million ReConnect grant to bring fiber broadband to unserved and underserved areas of Columbus County. The project provides service options to 4,057 households, 18 businesses, 22 farms, 15 educational facilities, three health care facilities and 10 critical community facilities. The project will cover about 150 square miles.

In South Carolina, Home Telecom was granted $8.1 million in funding to deploy 96 miles of fiber cable to unserved areas of Charleston and Berkeley counties. The project will reach 3,780 homes, 23 farms, 19 businesses, 19 educational facilities and eight fire stations.

USDA ReConnect Grants
The USDA ReConnect program will total $600 million evenly divided into grants, loans and grant/loan hybrids. The USDA received 146 applications between May 31 and July 12, with total requests for $1.4 billion.

The awards have been ongoing since October. Telecompetitor estimates that more than $200 million has been awarded to this point. The biggest set of announcements was made last week when almost $100 million in funding was announced.

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