USDA Announces New Rules to Fund Broadband Service in Unserved Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced new rules to better target Community Connect broadband grants to areas where they are needed the most. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These rules give communities better access to the benefits that broadband service provides,” Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration is working to ensure that rural residents share in the opportunities provided by modern Internet service.”
USDA Rural Development’s Community Connect Grant program serves rural communities where broadband service is least likely to be available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for citizens.
USDA’s Rural Utilities Service plans to publish information on Community Connect funding opportunities, including application deadlines and the amount of assistance available, in the Federal Register soon. In addition to Community Connect grants, USDA Rural Development provides loans and loan guarantees to help finance the construction of rural broadband networks. For example, USDA Rural Development awarded a Community Connect grant to the Texas County Rural Area Informational Network (TRAIN) to install and operate a Fiber-to-the-Home network in Raymondville, Texas. The grants helped fund a Community Center called the Public Access Community Room. TRAIN also is providing broadband service to community residents and businesses.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
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