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ReConnect Loan and Grant Program

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Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program

The Rural Broadband ReConnect Program furnishes loans and grants to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

Program Overview
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Keys to Success

Success is creating an eligible project that proposes to serve as many rural customers as possible and submitting a complete application to USDA by the deadline. Follow the rules that are detailed in the Federal Register Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • To build improved broadband e-Connectivity infrastructure for as many rural families, businesses, farms, schools and health care facilities as possible so that they can succeed in the 21st Century.
  • The law allows USDA to offer applicants loans and grants to build infrastructure and install equipment that provides modern, reliable, high-speed internet service in rural America. Project eligibility specifications have been developed and details are available at ReConnect.usda.gov.

    Rural e-Connectivity Program Overview Presentation (PDF, 1 MB)
  • Rural telephone and broadband service providers, rural electric cooperatives, national and regional private companies, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government instrumentalities are likely to be awarded ReConnect funds, but eligibility depends on state and local laws. The only ineligible entities are sole proprietors and limited partnerships.
  • The budget language requires that ReConnect funds be spent in rural areas with a population of less than 20,000 residents, where there is not sufficient access to broadband service with speeds of 10 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 1 megabits per second (mbps) upstream.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018 does not allow the expenditure of ReConnect funds where current internet service providers are offering 10 mbps/1 mpbs speeds.  When USDA receives applications for the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, we will use the best available tools and information to determine if the proposed new service area already has 10 mbps/1 mpbs speed connections at the household level. This includes USDA following our standard process for determining service availability, such as:

    1. Consulting various sources of information about broadband service offerings in the area, including maps published by the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), state governments, and others;
    2. Notifying service providers located in the area about the application for ReConnect funds for proposed service area, so current internet service providers can inform USDA if service is already available at those households at 10 mbps/1 mpbs speeds; and
    3. Performing e-connectivity testing to determine the availability of service by sending our General Field Representatives to the proposed service area.
  • On December 13, USDA announced the launch of the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program. Information about goals, eligibility rules, build-out requirements, and administrative procedures are all available at ReConnect.usda.gov. The first due date for applications to be submitted is April 29. We hope rural communities, companies, and cooperatives will begin reviewing the ReConnect Program’s rules and requirements so they can start assembling their project’s information. Then, USDA will open up an electronic web-based application intake and review system, that will be available there in March 2019. Projects will begin receiving Federal funds from the ReConnect Program in Summer and Fall of 2019.
  • After reviewing the rules of the pilot program at ReConnect.usda.gov, begin creating the rural broadband project that your community, cooperative, or company wants to submit to USDA for federal funding.  The online application portal has not yet opened, but you can develop all details of your rural broadband project and begin assembling all required information to apply.  Visit ReConnect.usda.gov for more information and to find Keys to Success for project applications.

Resources

    • Community Connect Grants
      Community Connect Grants help rural communities extend access where broadband service is least likely to be commercially available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for people and businesses. The projects funded by these grants help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of the Internet for jobs, education, healthcare, public safety and community development.
    • Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants
      Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of modern telecommunications and the Internet for education and health care, two of the keys to economic and community development.
    • Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee
      Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas.
    • Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees
      Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees provides financing for the construction, maintenance, improvement and expansion of telephone service and broadband in rural areas.
    • USDA’s Broadband Resources for Rural America
      Across USDA’s mission areas and agencies, there are 27 programs than can be used to fund planning, construction, research and other e-Connectivity activities. The Rural Development Innovation Center has developed an e-Connectivity matrix (PDF, 242 KB) that illustrates what customers are eligible for each program and the project types they can support. In addition, we have developed an e-Connectivity toolkit (PDF, 4.3 MB) that includes USDA resources that support e-Connectivity and aims to help customers navigate the agencies within our Department to find the opportunity that best fulfills their need.
    • NTIA’s BroadbandUSA
      The Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) BroadbandUSA help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of modern telecommunications and the Internet for education and health care, two of the keys to economic and community development.
    • FCC Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans
      The Federal Communications Commission has taken a number of steps to expand broadband across America. The Chairman's top priority is to close the digital divide between those who have access to cutting-edge communications services and those who do not. He believes that every American who wants to participate in the digital economy should be able to do so.