Department of Agriculture Rules and Regulations – USDA Program to Provide Grant/Loan Funding for up to 10% of the Cost of Broadband for Rural Farms and Businesses

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The Rural Utilities Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and Rural Housing Service, agencies that comprise the Rural Development Mission Area within the United States Department of Agriculture, are issuing this final rule to establish the authority authorized by Section 6210 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which will assist rural families and small businesses in gaining access to broadband service by permitting recipients of a loan, grant, or loan guarantee from RD to use up to 10 percent of the amount provided to construct broadband infrastructure in areas not served by minimum acceptable level of broadband service.

Emergency Broadband Investment Program

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The State of Missouri is providing up to $2 million in grants to reimburse providers that have expanded, or plan to connect, high-speed internet (25 Megabits per second / 3 Megabits per second or greater) to new subscribing residentsin unserved or underserved areas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) will administer and facilitate the reimbursement program for broadband providers that expand service in order to directly benefit qualified households, including those households: 1) that meet one of the categories identified as a vulnerable population, 2) with a Missouri resident on telework status, and 3) with a student resident (pre-school through higher education). The Emergency Broadband Investment Program will be technology-neutral and open to all broadband providers in good standing with the State of Missouri and meeting program guidelines. The program was developed using the federal law, guidance, and frequently asked questions from section 601(a) of the federal Social Security Act, as added by section 5001 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Applications will be reviewed immediately upon submission by DED using the following criteria and point values. DED will also assess the regional diversity of the grant requests. These evaluation criteria reflect information provided in thegrant application. To ensure that an application receives the best score possible, it should include comprehensive responses and all requested attachments. Applications may also be subject to a challenge process to ensure that CARES Act resources are deployed only as necessary and not for areas already adequately serviced.

DED reserves the right to revise these program guidelines to conform to CARES Act guidance issued during the grant period or as it otherwise deems prudent in its sole discretion.

More information can be found here: https://ded.mo.gov/content/emergency-broadband-investment-program

Electric Cooperatives Bring High-Speed Communications to Underserved Areas

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This report is an updated and revised edition of NRECA’s 2019 report, “Electric Cooperatives Bring High-Speed Communications to Underserved Areas.” The original report summarized findings from NRECA’s 2018 series of twelve case studies of electric cooperatives that have entered the broadband communications business. This new version of the report summarizes the original 2018 case studies, with updated information,plus another eight case studies completed by NRECA in 2019.

BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF RURAL BROADBAND IN THE TIPMONT COOPERATIVE IN INDIANA

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The objective of this study is to estimate the costs and benefits of rural broadband for the Tipmont Rural Electric Cooperative service territory. It does so by analyzing the “real world” costs of providing broadband service to households in a targeted multi-county area of Indiana, and estimating the benefits that can accrue to these households and the surrounding economy. This analysis can offer a valuable framework for assessing the net benefit of providing broadband services across rural areas of Indiana.