USDA Invests More Than $13 Million for Rural Broadband in Talbot County

Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they were investing more than $13 million to provide rural broadband to parts of Alpha Stock Images - County. 

The USDA is sending more than $13 million to Easton Utilities Commission for the deployment of a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that will connect thousands in Talbot County to high-speed internet. The grant comes from a second wave of USDA “ReConnect” funding, this time made possible through an allocation included in the CARES Act. The project will connect 8,607 people, 144 farms, 183 businesses, eight educational facilities and one nursing home to high-speed broadband internet.

“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,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “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. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”

From the press release:

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary 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, 2020, 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 on April 15.