Counties Can Plug into Grant for Rural Broadband

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.

The rural e-connectivity pilot provides an opportunity to rural counties for federal funding for broadband projects.

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.

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