USDA seeks applications rural broadband loans


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for loans to provide and expand broadband service in rural areas, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced last week.
 “Modernizing the nation’s infrastructure to deliver high-speed internet service is essential in today’s global marketplace,” Hazlett said. “Broadband helps create jobs. It also helps rural areas offer the programs and services that strengthen economies and encourage growth. These loans will help maintain America’s economic competitiveness and connect rural communities to more
opportunities.”
USDA plans to make at least $60 million in loans available, ranging from $100,000 to $20 million, through USDA Rural Development’s Telecommunications Program. This program funds infrastructure and equipment to deliver broadband, distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas. Projects receiving funding must offer broadband service at a minimum bandwidth of 25 megabits downstream and three megabits
upstream.
Expanding broadband service is a key component of the President’s plans to improve rural infrastructure. Last month, Secretary Perdue announced $34.6 million in loans that will add nearly 1,000 miles of fiber for broadband service in rural parts of Illinois, Iowa and Texas.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 30. For details on how to apply, see page 34473 of the July 25 Federal Register.
USDA is offering pre-application assistance to review draft applications, provide detailed comments, and identify whether the draft application meets eligibility requirements for funding. For assistance in Nebraska and Wyoming, please contact General Field Representative Roger Meeks at (402) 416-4936 or [email protected] Application assistance will be available on a first-come, first-served basis through Sept. 22.

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