To be eligible to receive ReConnect Program funds, the proposed service area must meet the following criteria:
- Lack Sufficient Access to Broadband: At least 90% of households in the proposed funded service area (PFSA) must lack access to fixed, terrestrial broadband service of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
- Be in a Rural Area: A rural area is any area that is not located in a city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants or an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. If an applicant is applying for multiple PFSAs, each service area will be evaluated on a stand-alone basis.
Information on Non-Rural areas and additional service area eligibility requirements are available on the ReConnect Program Eligibility Area Map.
The datasets that make up the Eligibility Area Map are also available to download under the Eligibility Area Map Datasets page.
The additional service area eligibility requirements include the following:
- Overlapping Service Areas. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will not fund more than one project that serves any one given geographic area. Nevertheless, it is the Agency’s intent to make as many eligible applications viable for consideration as possible. Therefore, when addressing instances where service areas overlap, the Agency may do the following:
- Determine that the overlap is so insignificant that no agency action is necessary;
- Request one or more applications to be revised to eliminate the overlapping territory;
- Choose one application over another based on the amount of assistance requested, the number of awards already chosen in the area or state, or the need for the project in the specific area due to other factors; or
- Choose the project that either scores higher in the evaluation criteria, or in the judgement of the agency, is more financially feasible.
- Prior Funded Service Areas. RUS will not fund a project proposing to serve an area that has already received financial assistance for broadband service as defined in this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA):
- RUS Broadband Loans. Service areas of borrowers that have RUS broadband loans are ineligible under this FOA. An RUS broadband borrower is any entity that has received a Telecommunications Infrastructure loan, Farm Bill Broadband loan, or Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) loan any time after the beginning of Fiscal Year 2000. If the RUS broadband borrower is not currently delivering at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream in the service area for which RUS funding was previously received, then that borrower is eligible to apply for ReConnect funds, provided that the borrower has not defaulted on and has materially complied with the RUS broadband loan requirements.
- RUS Community Connect Grants. Service areas that received grants under the RUS Community Connect Grant Program are eligible if they do not have sufficient access to broadband, except for those grants still under construction.
- RUS BIP Grants. Service areas that received a 100% grant under BIP are eligible if they do not have sufficient access to broadband. BIP grantees applying for ReConnect funds for the same service areas they supported under BIP may only request the 100% loan funding type.
- State-funded Areas. Applicants are encouraged to work with the Governor’s office for the states where they are proposing to provide broadband service. Information detailing where state funding has been provided must also be submitted.
- CAF II - Auction 903 Winners. Funding for service areas of CAF II recipients can only be requested by the entity that is receiving the CAF II support. Funding is limited to a 100% loan.
- ReConnect Program Awards. Service areas of companies that received a ReConnect award in round one are not eligible for funding under this FOA.