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Service Area Eligibility Requirements

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

  1. Lack Sufficient Access to Broadband: At least 90% of the proposed funded service area (PFSA) must lack sufficient access to broadband service, as defined in the latest Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).
  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.
  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.

The 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.
  • 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 for broadband service as defined in the latest FOA:
    • RUS Broadband Loans: Service areas of borrowers that have RUS Broadband loans are ineligible. 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 built out their service areas consistent with their application and award documents and is not required to or currently providing sufficient access to broadband, 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.
    • 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.
    • Other Federal Funding: Service areas that have received federal grant funds or funds from the FCC to provide broadband service will be restricted from funding, if such funding is principally to construct facilities throughout the service area that provide broadband service at the threshold level of service. Additional service areas restricted from funding will be identified in the latest FOA.

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