fiber optic cable

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has continued the fast pace of its ReConnect investments with two awards announcements totaling $13.7 million, all in the form of grants. The USDA ReConnect Round Two grants all involve fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) networks, which will potentially serve 600 people, 20 businesses and 79 farms in five states.

Rock County Telephone Company will use a $3.1 million grant to deploy a network that will connect 261 people, 70 farms and seven businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Rock, Keya Paha and Brown counties in Nebraska.

The second announcement featured three awards:

  • Beehive Telephone Company Inc. will use a $2.3 million grant to deploy a network that will connect four residents, four farms and four businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Washington County, Utah.
  • Beehive Telephone Company Inc. of Nevada will use a $2.7 million grant to connect 147 people to high-speed broadband internet in Elko County, Nevada.
  • All West Communications Inc. will use a $5.6 million grant to connect 188 people, nine businesses and five farms to high-speed broadband internet in Summit County in Utah, Bear Lake County in Idaho, and Sweetwater and Lincoln counties in Wyoming.

The most recent announcements bring the total of the second round of the awards to $629,865,791. USDA has 79 active awards in 34 states and territories.

The second phase of the ReConnect program was budgeted at $550 million. Its actual investment, however, now is almost $80 million above that figure and could reach as high as $700 million. Last week, a USDA spokesperson told Telecompetitor that the program can go beyond the announced budget because a portion of the awards are loans. The interest collected on these loans enables the USDA to continue making awards.

The first round of the ReConnect program was budgeted at $600 million. It eventually awarded $698,036,513 in 79 projects in 33 states and territories.

It’s been a busy time for the ReConnect program, with many awards coming in October. During the last week of the month, USDA ReConnect Round Two grants and loans announced totaled $46 million for 10 projects in Iowa, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New York, Colorado, North Dakota and Montana.

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