The USDA opened an application window for its Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, and announced changes to the program. The Broadband Program supports “costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service” to eligible rural areas.
The program will award up to $20 million to both public and private entities. Loans will be made for at least $100,000.
One important change to the program is that the USDA has set a minimum speed requirement of 4 Megabits (Mbps) per second download and 1 Mbps upload. It also strongly encourages applicants to design networks to support speeds of 25 Mbps download / 3 Mbps upload to ensure that future needs are met.
To be eligible for funds, an area cannot be served by three or more incumbent service providers and 15 percent of households in the area must be unserved. Potential service areas also cannot overlap with an area that is served by Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loan.
Applications are due September 30, 2015; detailed information is available on the USDA’s website.
CTC would be glad to discuss this opportunity with any public or nonprofit entity that is interested in applying. Please feel free to contact us at info@CTCnet.us.