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The Department of Agriculture’s Broadband Technical Assistance Program (BTA) today began accepting second round applications. The BTA, which aims to help local organizations, cooperatives and Tribes expand broadband in rural areas, has budgeted $25 million for the round.

The funding is aimed at helping in feasibility studies, network designs, hiring efforts, application development and other areas.

Applications will be accepted in two categories — one for Technical Assistance Providers and one for Technical Assistance Recipients.

The Providers category requires delivery of broadband technical assistance to rural communities. Up to $15 million is available. Awards are between 100,000 and $1 million. 

The Recipients category has $10 million available. Awards are between $50,000 and $500,000.

The program, which was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, has three priorities:

  • Assisting rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure;
  • Ensuring all rural residents have equitable access to USDA Rural Development (RD) programs and benefits from RD funded projects;
  • Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.

“USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet,” USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dr. Basil Gooden said. “USDA is partnering with small towns, Tribes, local utilities, rural cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to this critical service, which will boost opportunities and help build bright futures. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.”

In April, 2023, the Department of Agriculture said that as much as $20 million in technical assistance grants were available for rural broadband projects. As much as $7.5 million was dedicated to technical assistance providers, up to $7.5 million to assistance recipients and as much as $5 million would go to projects supporting cooperatives.

The round received 96 applications requesting a total of $44.5 million.

In April 2024, USDA awarded $5.2 million through the program.

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