VPNet Inc. gets $8.8M USDA grant to connect 7 public schools
Business-to-business telecommunications company VPNet Inc. has been awarded an $8,783,620 grant from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development program to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect seven public schools and a person to high-speed internet in Patillas and Arroyo.
The federal agency announced that VPNet Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity programs.
“This enables VPNet to further discount the cost of broadband services to low-income households. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Patillas and Arroyo,” the USDA stated in an announcement.
The local grant is part of a global $759 million that the agency is providing in grants and loans across the US mainland and its territories to deliver high-speed internet access to rural communities through the ReConnect Program.
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area that does not have access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload).
The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
“People living in rural towns across the nation need high-speed internet to run their businesses, go to school and connect with their loved ones,” Vilsack said. “USDA partners with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to high-speed internet so people in rural America can build brighter futures.”
The $759 million in loans and grants comes from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program, which in 2022 had $1.6 billion available for the broadband connection projects.