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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

USDA's Torres Small: "Too many rural communities have been left out of the digital economy"

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Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary, Xochitl Torres Small, announced the Sept. 6 opening of applications for funding to expand rural America's access to high-speed internet in an Aug. 4 news release.

The move is part of the Biden administration's commitment to improving rural infrastructure and national internet speeds, according to the release.

“For too long, too many rural communities have been left out of the digital economy,” Torres Small said. “This funding will help everyone in America – regardless of where they live – because rural people provide the everyday essentials our country depends on. Investments like the ones we are making through President (Joe) Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help close the digital divide across rural America.”

Starting Sept. 6, the USDA will accept applications for loans up to $150 million, loan and grant combinations up to $300 million, and grants up to $700 million, as part of Round 4 of the ReConnect Program, the release stated. The Department's funds will be provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $65 billion for expanding affordable, high-speed internet access to communities across the country.

Those seeking to apply for ReConnect Program funding must serve an area with internet speed capped at 100 megabits per second for downloads and 20 megabits per second for uploads, according to the release. Applicants must also commit to the construction of facilities capable of providing internet service at speeds of 100 megabits per second for downloads and uploads to every location included in its planned service area.

More information about investment resources for rural areas is available at the USDA Rural Development website. Additional details can also be obtained by contacting USDA Rural Development state offices.

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