On March 23, 2018, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (the Act), which established a new broadband loan and grant pilot program, now called the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program). The Act appropriated a budget authority of $600,000,000 to be used on an expedited basis. One of the essential goals of the ReConnect Program is to expand broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access, defined as 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
The first round of applicants have three separate funding categories to choose from: 100 percent (%) loan, 50% loan/50% grant, or 100% grant.
Applicants will be limited to one of the applications above for this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). To give potential applicants adequate time to access technical assistance from USDA staff and its partners, the first application deadline has been pushed back to May 31, 2019 or later.
The following entities are eligible to apply for assistance under the ReConnect Program:
- Non-profit entities
- For-profit corporations
- Limited liability companies
- Cooperative or mutual organizations
- States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof
- A territory or possession of the United States, and
- An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. § 450b)).
To be eligible for a 100% loan or 50% loan/50% grant, the proposed funded service area in an application must be in a rural area where 90% of the households do not have sufficient broadband access.
To be eligible for a 100% grant, the proposed funded service area in an application must be in a rural area where 100% of the households do not have sufficient broadband access. No matter which funding type the applicant requests, the proposed network must be capable of providing service to every premise in the proposed funded service area at a speed of at minimum, 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
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