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USDA Opening Window on $550 Million in Rural Broadband Subsidies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is making $550 million available for deploying high-speed broadband in rural areas. 

The application window for this, the second round of broadband subsidies in the USDA's ReConnect program, opens Jan. 31. 

Related: Sanders Unveils High-Speed Net for All 

“Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America," said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. "We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump and in cooperation with Congressional appropriators, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.” 

The money will be offered in three tranches: grants, low-interest loans and a 50/50 combination of grants and loans. 

In March 2018, Congress allocated $600 million to USDA to expand rural broadband infrastructure. 

Allocating money for rural broadband and precision agriculture is a big issue in Washington these days, including prompting legislators to call for using the money from a C-Band midband auction for rural rollouts rather than paying satellite operators to give up that spectrum.  

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.