USDA Rural Development is now accepting the first round of applications for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) through https://www.usda.gov/reconnect.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On December 13, Agriculture Secretary Sonny 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.
Within the USDA ReConnect funding application, projects can be awarded as many as 20 scoring points if their application includes a letter from the Governors Office that indicates the State’s broadband plan is up-to-date and published, there are no restrictions on non-broadband utilities from providing broadband service in rural areas, and procedures are in place to expedite administrative activities if necessary, for completing rights-of-way and environmental permitting requirements for the project, in order to meet USDA’s project build-out timelines. The Broadband Office with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is offering technical assistance to USDA applicants by providing the following: