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News

Government Relations Update December 2017

Posted on Jan 09, 2018 by Matthew Hall
Tags: Federal Government, Policy Issues

Photo of the United States Capitol Building

Internet2 Analysis of RUS Funding Opportunities 

Internet2 has been monitoring funding opportunities available through the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). These grant and loan programs provide federal funding support to entities working to expand broadband access across the country. While funding windows are currently closed, Internet2 anticipates they will open again soon. This will be determined by the progress of ongoing appropriations legislation in Congress, which has yet to be finalized. The deadline for the expiration of the continuing resolution currently funding the government is January 19.  

The four telecommunications funding programs operated by RUS are:

1. Community Connect Grants

  • This program provides service to an area where no broadband service currently exists. This includes offering service to all residential and business customers and creating a community center with free access to broadband.
  • To be eligible, an entity must provide matching funds of 15 percent of the proposed grant and must provide service to all residential and business customers in the area.
  • The program’s funding status is set at the following levels by current legislative appropriations proposals:  House - $122.7 million as part of a new joint account managed by RUS; Senate - $30 million.

2. Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

  • Grants may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies that extend educational and medical opportunities in rural areas.
  • To be eligible, entities must provide matching funds of 15 percent of the proposed grant, and grant funds may not be used for internet services, telecommunications services, or other forms of connectivity.
  • The program's funding status is set at the following levels by current legislative appropriations proposals:  House - $122.7 million as part of a new joint account managed by RUS; Senate - $26.6 million.

3. Farm Bill Broadband Loans and Loan Guarantees

  • Furnishes loans and loan guarantees for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.
  • Eligible entities must demonstrate an equity position of 10 percent of the loan and must agree to complete the build-out of the broadband system within three years.
  • The program's funding status is set at the following levels by current legislative appropriations proposals:  House - $27 million; Senate - $27 million.

4. Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees

  • Provides financing for the construction, maintenance, improvement, and expansion of telephone service and broadband in rural areas.
  • Eligible proposals must provide service to a rural area with a population of 5,000 or less.
  • The program's funding status is set at the following levels by current legislative appropriations proposals:  House - $690 million; Senate - $690 million.