USDA invests $9 million in broadband for rural Tennessee communities

Mar 16, 2020


Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Feb. 14 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested $9 million in four high-speed broadband infrastructure projects that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 3,744 rural households, 31 businesses, 41 farms, and a critical community facility in Tennessee. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.

“Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America,” Perdue said. “We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Ben Lomand Holdings Inc. will use a $2.2 million ReConnect Program grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to rural northeastern Cumberland County. The funded service areas include 222 households, six pre-subscribed businesses, and three pre-subscribed farms spread over 100 square miles.

North Central Communications Inc. will use a $1.4 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Smith County. The funded service areas include 164 households, 10 pre-subscribed businesses, and 21 pre-subscribed farms spread over 22 square miles.

Peoples Telephone Company, dba TEC, will use a $1 million ReConnect Program loan and a $1 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Houston, Henry, Stewart, and Montgomery counties.

The funded service areas include 642 households, two pre-subscribed businesses, and five pre-subscribed farms spread over 38 square miles.

United Communications Inc. will use a $3.3 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Wilson, Rutherford, Williamson, and Maury counties. The funded service areas include 2,716 households, 13 pre-subscribed businesses, 12 pre-subscribed farms, and a critical community facility spread over 48 square miles.

The “ReConnect” Pilot Program grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service.

In December 2019, Secretary Perdue announced USDA will be making available an additional $550 million in ReConnect funding in 2020. USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.
 

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