The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced a total of $167 million in support for broadband infrastructure projects in 12 states through its ReConnect program. The great majority of the awards – $152 million – are in the form of grants. Eleven out of the 18 announced winners are NRTC members, mostly rural telephones with some electric cooperatives.
ReConnect is a three-year-old program that distributes loans, grants or, in some cases, a combination of loans and grants. The $600 million first round of funding ended in 2019 with NRTC assisting an electric utility, Grundy Electric Cooperative of Missouri, among those winning support. The awards announced this week are part of a $550 million second round.
The program could receive another injection of funding later this year through the currently debated federal infrastructure bill. The Senate this week passed a measure that would provide $65 billion to various agencies to promote broadband availability and affordability. The Senate bill includes an additional $2 billion to USDA for ReConnect. The House of Representatives will next consider the bill.
NRTC members on this week’s winners list include:
- UBTA-UBET Communications Inc., Utah, $24,563,757 grant. Fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to reach 3,472 households.
- Oklahoma Western Telephone Co., Oklahoma, $23,344,336 grant. FTTP network to reach 947 households.
- Altamaha Electric Membership Corp., Georgia, $10,592,082 loan/$10,592,082 grant. FTTP network to reach 6,665 households.
- Nushagak Electric and Telephone Cooperative, Alaska, $16,783,726 grant. FTTP network to reach 944 households.
- Central Virginia Services, Virginia, $14,123,917 grant. FTTP network to reach 4,139 households.
- Delta-Montrose Electric Association, Colorado, $10,595,446 grant. FTTP network to reach 2,410 households.
- Horry Telephone Cooperative, South Carolina, $9,833,035 grant. FTTP network to reach 2,889 households.
- Kingdom Telephone Co., Missouri, $4,222,260 grant. FTTP network to reach 906 households.
- Polar Communications Mutual Aid Co., North Dakota, $3,944,111 grant. FTTP network to reach 209 households.
- Terral Telephone Co., Oklahoma, $1,854,675 grant. FTTP network to reach 105 households.
- Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Missouri, $701,985 grant. FTTP network to reach 163 households.