USDA invests $71M in broadband for rural areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $71 million to provide broadband service to underserved rural areas in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to High Plains Journal.

The funding is part of USDA's first round of investments through its ReConnect Pilot Program, which aims to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. Program funding was awarded to companies such as Totah Communications, KanOkla Shidler and Cross Cable Television, which will construct the broadband infrastructure.

"The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now — as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, according to the report. "Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children and remote business operations all require access to broadband."

Mr. Perdue and USDA launched the ReConnect program in December 2018. The agency received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, totaling $1.4 billion in funding requests. The second round of applications for funding closed April 15, bringing in 172 applications for $1.57 billion.

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