Tarana Wireless, Inc.

Navigating Government Infrastructure Funding:  USDA Community Connect and ReConnect

The US is going through an unprecedented level of funding to improve broadband connectivity and digital equity for Americans. We explain two programs from the USDA: Community Connect and ReConnect.

If you’re an internet provider based in the US, you’ve almost certainly heard about the unprecedented level of attention and funding made available to improve broadband access for millions of consumers. The pandemic has brought with it a historic wave of federal recovery funding for economic stimulus and infrastructure investment, with a tsunami of new broadband funding in the pipeline to the United States, territories, and tribes as well as directly to community and provider projects. 

It isn’t a matter of one source of funding, however, there are multiple agencies and initiatives, each providing its own funding as either grants or loans. Just as importantly, each program has its own requirements for eligibility. Navigating this multitude of agencies and requirements is tricky, which is why we’re offering a series of blogs that examine some of the options available.

Programs Summary

The chart below summarizes the various programs currently available and coming on stream in the next two years illustrated as a graphic timeline.

USDA Community Connect

The USDA Community Connect grant program provides assistance to eligible applicants to provide broadband service in rural, economically challenged communities that are currently unserved. It is anticipated to reinitiate an additional funding round in April 2022. Grants are for up to $3M and require ≥15% matching. 

The awarded funds may be used for construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to deploy the service. This program also includes funds to provide broadband service free of charge to critical community facilities for 2 years. Critical community facilities include public schools, fire stations, and public libraries.

Grants are limited to a single contiguous area which makes them good for smaller, single community projects.

Learn more about the program here.

USDA ReConnect

The USDA ReConnect Grant Program (currently in Round 3) provides funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access. ReConnect can accommodate larger, multi-community deployment opportunities, though with significant matching obligations. $1.15B is available for grants, loans, and combo funding. Round 3 applications were due by March 9, 2022 but there is discussion of a ReConnect Round 4 that will launch in late 2022.

Learn more about the program here.

If you just can’t wait to learn more, check out our other blogs or some of our favorite customer links. Or reach out to us at info@taranawireless.com. We’d love to hear from you.