USDA approves $47 million in loans for rural broadband

The Agriculture Department approved $47 million for five rural broadband telecommunications loans to expand access to advanced technology for farmers, rural residents and businesses in five states.

The loans announced Thursday will go to companies in Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Washington and benefit 38,000 households and businesses. Funds for the program were authorized through the 2002 Farm Bill. To date, more than $253 million in broadband loans have been approved in this program.

'Advanced high-speed Internet technology enables more rural Americans to access information to improve their educational, health and business opportunities,' said Agriculture secretary Ann Veneman. President Bush has established a goal of having high-speed access in every household by 2007.

The rural broadband access program provides loans and loan guarantees for the construction, improvement and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. Priority is given to applications that propose to serve areas where no residential broadband service currently exists.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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