ReConnect broadband program deadline extended by USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for the ReConnect program until at least the end of May to allow for applicants enough time to receive technical assistance. 

The move comes after a request was sent to the USDA by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito for an extension to the deadline to apply for the program. 

Capito reasoned that during the recent government shutdown, applicants did not have the access to information they needed about the program. 

“We’ve seen such strong interest in ReConnect from rural telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives, that we want to be sure there’s enough time for them to put solid applications together for these innovative funding opportunities,” said Bette Brand, the USDA’s acting administrator for Rural Utilities Service in a news release. “The USDA team stands ready to assist with engineering and business plans, to be sure these new Federal funds are as impactful as possible.” 

The ReConnect program is a $600 million program which will expand broadband infrastructure across rural America. 

The program is open to telecommunication companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and local municipalities. 

The USDA also announced the availability of an e-Connectivity Toolkit available to the public that outlines 27 USDA programs aimed at rural broadband connectivity. 

“High-speed broadband e-Connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for schoolchildren, doing homework in rural communities,” USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett said in a news release. “This user-friendly tool will help rural customers find the many resources USDA has available to support the expansion and use of e-Connectivity in rural America.” 

Information about the USDA’s broadband programs can be found at www.rd.usda.gov.

By:  Matt Combs
Source: Beckley Register-Herald