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USDA Launches High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Resources
USAgNet - 02/07/2019

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Wednesday announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities.

"High-speed broadband e-Connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for schoolchildren, doing homework in rural communities," Hazlett said. "This user-friendly tool will help rural customers find the many resources USDA has available to support the expansion and use of e-Connectivity in rural America."

The e-Connectivity Toolkit features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment. The easy-to-use resource is a simple guide that allows customers to identify their type of e-Connectivity project and locate resources the federal government offers for planning, equipment, construction, research and other e-Connectivity projects. Resources such as grants, loans and technical assistance are available from multiple Mission Areas at USDA, including Rural Development, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, National Resources Conservation Service, and Forest Service.

The toolkit highlights examples of how e-Connectivity resources are being used to increase access to broadband services in rural communities. It is free and available to the public online, and can be easily printed for offline use.

Meanwhile, acting Administrator for USDA's Rural Utilities Service Bette Brand announced the agency would extend application deadlines for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program).

To give potential applicants adequate time to access technical assistance from USDA staff and its partners, the first application deadline will be pushed back to May 31 or later. Previously, application deadlines began in April. New specific deadlines for ReConnect Program grants, loans, and grant-loan combination applications will be posted in the Federal Register in late February.

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