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
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.Learn More
Attend a training for technical assistance.
Read community announcements.
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 telephone and broadband service providers, rural electric cooperatives, national and regional private companies, nonprofit organizations, tribal entities, and State and local government instrumentalities are likely to be awarded funds, but eligibility depends on State and local laws. An applicant must be able to supply retail broadband to customers. The only ineligible entities are sole proprietors and limited partnerships. Eligible entities are listed in the Funding Opportunity Announcement released December 14, 2018.
The language in the budget law requires that funds be spent in rural areas with a population of less than 20,000 residents, where there is not sufficient access to broadband service. Sufficient access is defined as speeds of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. The funding is technology neutral, as long as it funds infrastructure that reliably supplies retail service to customers at 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
When USDA receives applications for the ReConnect Program, we will use the best available tools and information to determine if the proposed new service area already has 10/1 Mbps speed connections at the household level. We will post a Public Notice Filing (PNF) of the proposed service area on the ReConnect webpage at reconnect.usda.gov and service providers in those areas can submit a Public Notice Response indicating if they are already providing 10/1 Mbps. There is subscription service on the ReConnect webpage that allows companies and individuals to subscribe to receive notification whenever a PNF is posted. Finally, USDA will send staff out to the proposed service area and conduct an on-site review to determine if 10/1 Mbps service is available.
USDA announced the final rules and requirements on December 13, 2018. Application deadlines begin in May 2019 so that rural communities, cooperatives, and companies can begin to create the parameters of their rural broadband project. Application deadlines are:
- May 31, 2019 for grants;
- June 21, 2019 for the loan and grant combination; and,
- July 12, 2019 for loans.
Funding award maximums are $25 million for a grant, $50 million for a loan and grant combination, and $50 million for a loan. Awards are anticipated to be disbursed starting in late 2019.
After reviewing the rules for ReConnect at reconnect.usda.gov, begin creating the rural broadband project that your community, cooperative, or company wants to submit for federal funding from USDA. 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. Information you will need includes the following:
- Geographic boundaries of the proposed service area that currently lacks 10/1 Mbps Internet speeds.
- Type of technologies that will be used to provide new rural broadband service of 25/3 Mbps or above (could be fiber, fixed wireless, and certain terrestrial components of satellite service).
- Number of rural premises you will be connecting, such as homes, schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, farms, ranches, and businesses.
- Business plan for how the service will be constructed and on what timeframe services will be available to customers.
- Information about the structure and financial well-being of the community, cooperative, or company that is submitting the application.
- System design for delivering 25/3 service including cost estimates of proposed facilities.
- How the project will satisfy NEPA, Section 106, and other environmental requirements.
- 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.
- Community Connect Grants
- 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. For more information about the new ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, you may view the ReConnect Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 394 KB).
- 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.
- USDA’s Broadband Resources for Rural America