The USDA has announced a new round of investments into rural broadband. $97 million will be going to 12 projects nationwide to help expand service beyond urban corridors.
“A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “These investments will expand access to educational, social and business opportunities for 22,000 subscribers to help grow their rural communities and America’s economy.”
USDA is making the investments through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program. Funding is going to projects in Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The projects include a mix of broadband fixes from upgrading facilities to converting older connections to fiber-to-the-premises.
Rural broadband is a key focus area for policymakers all over the country. At the federal level, Congress is considering a funding package for rural broadband that could be part of a future budget. At the state level, local governments are working on their own and as part of public-private partnerships to help expand broadband.
As CivSource recently reported, Microsoft and RTO wireless have partnered on rural broadband expansion in Maine and New York using TV White Space Broadband and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. Both technologies are designed to use the long-range transmission capabilities of TV and Radio to transmit data and have emerged as possible economic solutions for giving rural populations high-speed access.
The full list of projects in the latest USDA funding round is available here.