The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week came close to the end of phase 1 of the USDA ReConnect program over the past week when it made awards of almost $29 million in rural Georgia and Utah.

All but about $40 million of the $600 million first phase of the program now has been awarded. The USDA says that there are 63 active awards in 28 states and territories. The total amount of the phase is evenly divided between loans, grants and a combination of the two.

USDA Georgia ReConnect Awards
The Georgia investment is split between two projects. The Darien Telephone company will receive a $1 million grant to expand internet service via an FTTP project to customers in McIntosh County. The project will cover 257 households, 17 pre-subscribed businesses and a critical care facility. The Pembroke Telephone company will received a $2 million grant and a $2 million loan to build an FTTP network to provide services to an area including 964 households, 20 pre-subscribed farms and 15 pre-subscribed businesses in Evans County. This is the fourth award in Georgia. The USDA ReConnect awards in the state total about $10 million.

In Utah, UBTA-UBET Communications, which does business as STRATA Networks, will get an $11.8 million loan and a grant of the same amount to provide broadband connectivity in the Uintah Basin. The project includes the Uintah and Ouray reservations where Ute Indian Tribe communities are located. The area includes more than 3,000 farms, businesses and homes spread over more than 400 square miles. This is the third award in Utah. Investments in the two previous projects total about $26 million.

The next phase of the ReConnect Program, which aims to bring broadband to unserved or underserved rural areas, is heating up as the first phase comes to a close. The USDA began accepting applications for the second phase of the program, which will total $550 million, on January 31.

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