In the biggest USDA broadband announcement of the year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that 49 projects will receive $759 million to bring high-speed internet access to rural communities from North Carolina to California. With the new funding, the USDA has awarded $1.6 billion through the third round of ReConnect grants and loans this year.
The ReConnect Program supports projects that bring or improve high-speed internet to underserved areas. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed last November included $2 billion for the USDA to expand broadband service. Congress also makes an annual appropriation to the program. The White House estimated last year that more than 30 million Americans live in rural and urban areas that lack internet connections at “minimally acceptable levels.”