Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural parts of the country last year. The grant/loan program opens soon and accepts county applications.
Some rural areas in Maryland and nationwide are underserved with regard to their internet connectivity. Gaps in the “last mile” between high-speed internet and rural homes and businesses pose challenges in linking up with faster service.
Internet connectivity, once a luxury, is now in many ways integrated into daily life at home and at work. Lack of service can negatively affect economic development, public safety, education outcomes, and quality of life. A new grant from the US Department of Agriculture seeks to help bridge the gap in connectivity with grant funding and loans for rural broadband projects.
The first distribution of the $600 million program has been made, as described by the National Association of Counties:
USDA is now making up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations and $200 million in low-interest loans available. The application deadlines are:
- May 31 for grants
- June 21 for loan/grant combinations
- July 12 for low-interest loans
Applicants can visit reconnect.usda.gov to apply; those needing technical assistance from USDA can fill out a contact form here: https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/contact-us, according to NACo.
For more information, see $600 million available for rural broadband.