This page contains answers to questions submitted by interested ReConnect Program applicants during webinars, regional workshops, and via the Contact Us form on the ReConnect website. The questions and answers are organized by topic of interest and are updated on a regular basis. To view answers, click the plus sign (+) next to your question of interest.
ReConnect Program Overview
A: The ReConnect Program offers federal loans, grants, and combinations thereof to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. ReConnect loans and grants provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access, as defined by the latest FOA.
A: USDA offers loans and grants to build infrastructure and install equipment that provides modern, reliable, high-speed Internet service in rural America. The amount and types of funds available for assistance will be determined by the latest FOA.
A: As defined in the Rural eConnectivity Program Regulation (published on February 26, 2021), the following entities are eligible to apply for assistance:
- Limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships
- Cooperative or mutual organizations
- States or local governments, including any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof
- A territory or possession of the United States
- An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b))
Individuals and legal general partnerships formed with individuals are not eligible for ReConnect funding. In addition, co-applicants are not eligible. If two entities would like to partner with each other in delivering broadband to areas without sufficient access, then one entity must take the lead on submitting an application. In this case, intercompany agreements can be used to account for revenues and expenses on the applicant’s financial projections.
A: Individuals are not eligible for funding under this program.
A: Yes. Unless otherwise noted in the latest FOA, an entity may submit only one application under any funding window. Although the online application system will allow you to create multiple applications, you can only submit one.
A: To be eligible for ReConnect Funding, a Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA) must be (1) rural and (2) lack sufficient access to broadband service:
- According to the ReConnect Regulation, a rural area is any area which is not located within: (1) A city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or (2) an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants.
- Sufficient access to broadband will be defined in the latest FOA. Mobile/cellular and satellite services will not be considered in making the determination of sufficient access to broadband. Note, for all funding categories, 90% of households within each proposed service area must lack sufficient access to broadband.
In addition, a PFSA may not include areas that have been previously funded by other RUS telecommunications programs. Additional eligibility requirements will be determined by the latest FOA. Ineligible areas include:
- Overlapping service areas
- Areas where there are pending applications for USDA Rural Utilities Service programs
- Protected RUS Broadband Borrowers
- Service areas that received federal grant funds to construct facilities to provide broadband service at the level defined in the latest FOA
A: For the ReConnect Program only, an RUS broadband loan means any loan that has been approved or is currently under review by RUS after the beginning of Fiscal Year 2000 in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Program, Farm Bill Broadband Program, Broadband Initiatives Program or the ReConnect Program. Loans that were rescinded or defaulted on, or the terms and conditions of which were not met, are not included in this definition. RUS electric loans are also not included in this definition. The Service Area Map provides map layers for each protected type of current RUS borrower, as well as a layer that shows tribal lands.
A: Yes, there are three options for an applicant regarding financial statements:
- An applicant must submit unqualified, comparative, audited financial statements for the previous year from the date the application has been submitted.
- If an applicant does not have completed audited financial statements from the previous year, then the applicant can submit the two previous unqualified audits that have been completed.
- An applicant can use the consolidated audit of its parent as long as the parent fully guarantees the loan, or in the case of a grant, guarantees that construction will be completed as approved in the application or will repay the grant to RUS. If an applicant has more than one parent, then each parent’s audits must be submitted, and each parent must fully guarantee the award.
Note: For governmental entities, financial statements must be accompanied with certifications as to unrestricted cash that may be available on a yearly basis to the applicant.
A: A subsidiary may use consolidated financials of the parent company if the parent fully guarantees the loan, or in the case of a grant, guarantees construction will be completed.
A: All Applicants must follow the requirements in 7 CFR part 1970 and are required to complete an Environmental Questionnaire (EQ), to provide a description of program activities, and to submit all other required environmental documentation as requested in the application system or by the Agency after the application is submitted. Additional requirements will be included in the latest FOA.
A: Projects will be evaluated for technical and financial feasibility. The exact application evaluation criteria will be determined by the latest FOA.
A: You can submit your ReConnect program questions by using the Contact Us Form located at www.usda.gov/reconnect/contact-us. USDA also encourages you to reach out to your General Field Representative (GFR) or State office for more guidance related to your specific community. A list of GFRs, their service areas, and their contact information can be found here: www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/telecom-gfr/all; State office contact information can be found here: www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.
A: USDA will conduct a series of webinars addressing specific ReConnect topics once a FOA has been published. Register to receive updates about the program, including upcoming workshops and webinars, on the ReConnect website by clicking the "Stay up to date" link toward the bottom of the home page at reconnect.usda.gov.