The USDA is offering up to $600 million to build broadband infrastructure in rural America.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new funding program that allocates up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. The Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) makes funding opportunities available to telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities.  The USDA has created a comprehensive resource portal for program information, which includes technical assistance webinars and a listing of regional workshops.

The first informational webinar is scheduled for December 20.

One of the ReConnect Program's essential goals is to expand broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access, defined in this program as 10 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 1 mbps upstream. The first round of applicants have three separate funding categories to choose from: 100 percent loan; 50 percent loan / 50 percent grant, or 100 percent grant. Priority will be awarded for projects that propose to deliver higher-capacity connections to rural homes, businesses and farms. Promotional information sheets which can be downloaded and shared are available here.