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Service Area Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to receive ReConnect Program funds, a proposed project must meet the following criteria:

  1. Lack Sufficient Access to Broadband: At least 90% of households in the proposed funded service area (PFSA) must lack sufficient access to broadband service, as defined in the latest Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
    • The NOFO published on February 21, 2024 defines sufficient access to broadband as at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
  2. Serve All Premises in the PFSA: The proposed network must be capable of providing broadband service to every premises located in the PFSA at the time of application submission at the speed defined in the latest FOA.
    • The speed defined in the latest NOFO is 100 Mbps symmetrical service to every premise in the proposed funded service area (PFSA). Please note that “capable of delivering 100 Mbps symmetrical service to every premises” means that all premises in the PFSA must be able to receive this service at the same time.
  3. 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.

Information on Non-Rural areas and additional service area eligibility requirements are available on the Reconnect Program Service Area Map.

The datasets that make up the Service Area Map are also available to download under the Service Area Map Datasets page.

Additional service area eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Ineligible Service Areas: If any part of a PFSA is ineligible, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) may request that an application be modified if the modification is deemed feasible. Otherwise, the application will be rejected.
  • Overlapping Service Areas: RUS will not fund more than one project that serves any one given geographic area. However, RUS reserves the right to make funding offers or seek consultations to resolve partially overlapping applications 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, 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. However, pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260), the service areas of existing RUS borrowers without sufficient access to broadband, as defined in the latest NOFO, are eligible for ReConnect funding. Prior funded service areas include:
      • RUS Broadband Loans: Service areas of borrowers that have RUS Broadband loans that are receiving sufficient access to broadband are ineligible. If an RUS borrower is not providing sufficient access to broadband in an area, any entity may apply to serve that area. Additionally, RUS Broadband Borrowers that have built out their service areas consistent with their application and award documents, but were not required to provide, and are currently not providing, sufficient access to broadband are eligible to apply for funding for these service areas; provided that they have not defaulted on, and have materially complied with their prior Broadband loan award requirements. Current RUS Broadband Borrowers that have received funding to provide sufficient access to broadband but have not yet built out their system are ineligible to apply for funding for these service areas.
      • 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.
      • Service Areas with Other Funding: Applicants are encouraged to work with the Governor’s office for the states, and tribal governments for the tribal areas, where they are proposing to provide broadband service and submit information detailing where state funding has been provided.
      • Additional service areas restricted from funding will be identified in the latest NOFO.
  • Tribal Lands: A certification from the appropriate tribal official is required if service is being proposed over or on tribal lands. The appropriate certification is a Tribal Government Resolution of Consent. The appropriate tribal official is the Tribal Council of the Tribal Government with jurisdiction over the tribal lands at issue. Any applicant that fails to provide a certification to provide service on the tribal lands identified in the PFSA will not be considered for funding.