Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced 14 awards for projects to bring broadband to unserved rural communities. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino made the announcement on the Secretary’s behalf while addressing a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in San Antonio.
USDA is providing $20.3 million in grants through the Community Connect Grant program.
For example, in Tennessee, Scott County Telephone Cooperative has been selected to receive a $2.6 million grant to build a network that will provide free broadband service to essential community facilities such as schools and libraries. The Cooperative also will establish a center where local residents will have access to free internet service for two years.
These are the first awards made under the Community Connect program’s new guidelines that now allow applicants to fund broadband infrastructure for more than one community, and raise the minimum required speed. Projects funded must deliver broadband at five megabits per second (Mbps).