USDA opens cycle for rural broadband build-out grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week it is soliciting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its “Community Connect” Program, which has some $12 million available to assign.
“Community Connect” is administered by USDA’s Rural Utility Service and helps to fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not economically viable for private sector providers to provide service, agency Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“Through ‘Community Connect’ and our other telecommunications programs, USDA helps to ensure that rural residents have access to broadband to run businesses, get the most from their education and benefit from the infinite services that fast, reliable broadband provides,” Vilsack said.
Over the years, Puerto Rico applicants have received significant funding for different projects, including the Ana G. Méndez University System, which received $566,505 in 2014, and the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corp., which received $465,739 in 2013, said José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico.
The grants also fund broadband for community centers and public institutions. The minimum grant is $100,000 for FY 2016. The maximum award is $3 million.