$16M being invested in high-speed broadband in rural areas of some states

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump Administration on Jan. 8 announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $16 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Illinois, Oregon and South Carolina. This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.

“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now — as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on.

  • Adams TelSystems Inc. will use a $1.6 million ReConnect grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 441 people, 34 farms and four businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Adams County, Ill.
  • Casco Communications will use a $6.6 million ReConnect grant and a $6.6 million ReConnect loan to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 5,265 people, 32 businesses, 13 farms and two public schools to high-speed broadband in Linn and Polk counties in Oregon.
  • Lancaster Telephone Company will use a $1.6 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 5,574 people, 20 businesses, 17 farms and three educational facilities to high-speed broadband internet in Lancaster and Chester counties in South Carolina.
Background

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.

On April 20, USDA announced the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the ReConnect Program. The second round will enable USDA to implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with our partners and continuing the success of the first round of funding. The application window for Round Two closed April 15.

In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states. To learn more about individual investments, read USDA’s Broadband ReConnect Program report at https://bit.ly/3hWQsDv.

USDA received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.

To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.