New USDA Program Provides Funds for Broadband Technical Assistance
NRTC today distributed a Funding Alert with a summary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Broadband Technical Assistance (BTA) program. The agency will take $20 million already appropriated from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to apply to technical assistance measures for rural broadband projects. Eligible parties have until June 20 to apply for funds. USDA expects to announce awards on or around Sept. 30.
“The program supports technical assistance projects such as conducting feasibility studies, completing network designs and developing broadband financial assistance applications. Funding is also available to help organizations access federal resources, and to conduct data collection and reporting,” USDA announced earlier this week.
Assistance with feasibility studies, network design and writing applications for financial support are among the many services NRTC offers its members.
USDA says it will divide the program into three categories. It will set aside up to $7.5 million to fund companies that provide technical assistance; up to 7.5 million for companies that seek to fund technical activities, and up to $5 million specifically to aid cooperative projects. Maximum awards in the assistance provider and cooperative categories are $1 million and $250,000 for technical assistance recipients. Minimum awards are $50,000 in all three categories.
A notice in the Federal Register provides more BTA information, including a list of restrictions on funding. Awards may not be used for construction “in any form,” projects that cover non-rural areas and projects covering areas already served by an existing broadband provider.
USDA encourages applicants to include Rural Partners Networks (RPNs) in their applications, according to the notice. Community RPNs are alliances of local residents, political leaders, civic groups and others who work together for specific economic development goals. There are currently RPNs operating in 10 states and Puerto Rico.
For more information about the BTA program, refer to the NRTC Funding Alert or contact email@example.com.