Accepting Applications for $1 Billion Rural High-Speed Internet Program. Deadline November 2, 2022
Biden-Harris Administration Now
Accepting Applications for $1 Billion Rural High-Speed Internet Program
$1 Billion Increase in
USDA ReConnect Program Round 4 Funding through the Historic Bipartisan
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2022
– U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today
announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program
loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of
people in rural America nationwide. The Department is making more than $1
billion available, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure
Law. The program is a critical piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s
commitment to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed
“Ensuring that the people of rural America are connected
with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the
rest of our country, and it remains a core priority for President Biden,”
Vilsack said. “That’s why high-speed internet is an important part of
USDA Rural Development’s work with rural communities. Reliable high-speed
internet opens the world’s marketplace to rural business owners. It
enables them to expand their businesses and give more jobs and
opportunities to people in their own community.”
On Sept. 6, USDA began accepting applications for loans,
with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700
million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million under the ReConnect Program.
These funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,
also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Governmentwide,
the law provides an historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable,
high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
The application deadline is Nov. 2. For additional
information, see page 47690 of the Aug. 4 Federal Register
(PDF, 231 KB).
USDA has made several improvements to the ReConnect
Program for the current round of applications. Collectively, these
improvements increase the availability of funding in rural areas where
residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet.
·Allowing applicants to serve areas where at least 50% of
households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet.
·Adding a funding category for projects where 90% of
households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. For
applications submitted under this category, no matching funds will be
·Waiving the matching funds requirement for: (a) Alaska
Native Corporations, (b) Tribal Governments, (c) projects proposing to
provide service in colonias, (d) projects proposing to serve persistent
poverty counties and (e) projects proposing to provide service in
socially vulnerable communities.
Additionally, to ensure that rural households in need of
internet service can afford it, all awardees under this funding round
will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure
Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of
up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income
households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal
Lands. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive internet at no
cost and can sign up and check their eligibility at GetInternet.gov. The
Department’s actions to expand high-speed internet access in rural areas
are key components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to help
America build back better in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
In the first round of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested
$656 million to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural
customers across 33 states and territories. In the second round of the
ReConnect Program, USDA invested $850 million to create or improve
high-speed internet access for rural customers across 37 states and
territories. To date, USDA has announced $356 million in critical
investments through the third round of ReConnect funding, for a total of
$1.8 billion invested through the ReConnect Program since the program’s
inception. More investments will be announced in the coming weeks.
Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant
must serve an area where high-speed internet service is not available at
speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload).
The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of
providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and
upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development
provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create
jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural
areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business
development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety
and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and
high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.