BROOKINGS, S.D., – The Trump Administration today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $5.5 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in central South Dakota.
This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.
“High-speed internet e-Connectivity helps businesses get access to global markets, provides remote learning for students, and allows greater access to all kinds of health care,” USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner in deploying this essential infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association Inc. will use a $5.5 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,561 people, 30 businesses, 185 farms, three essential community facilities and six educational facilities to high-speed broadband internet in Beadle, Brookings, Clark, Kingsbury and Moody counties in South Dakota.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.
On April 20, 2020, USDA announced the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the ReConnect Program. The second round will enable USDA to implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with our partners and continuing the success of the first round of funding. The application window for Round Two closed on April 15.
In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states.
USDA received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.