rural broadband

USDA opens Community Connect grant applications

The Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications through its Community Connect program, which provides funding for community-oriented broadband programs in currently unserved, lower-income and extremely rural areas.

The grant program, run by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, helps fund broadband in communities where private firms do not provide service. USDA will award up to $11.7 million in grants for broadband infrastructure as well as funding for community centers and public institutions, agency officials said.

Although USDA defines eligible rural areas as those whose broadband connection speed is less than 4 rant winners must be able to provide 10 megabit/sec downstream and 1 megabit upstream broadband for both fixed and mobile service.

Since the program’s launch in 2002, the USDA has invested $160 million in more than 240 projects to bring broadband to rural areas.

"Through Community Connect and our other telecommunications programs, USDA helps to ensure that rural residents have access to broadband to run businesses, get the most from their education and benefit from the infinite services that fast, reliable broadband provides," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

USDA is setting the minimum grant at $100,000 and the maximum award at $3 million. The application deadline is June 17, and rules for applying can be found here.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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