WASHINGTON, D.C. [8.9.22] – This week, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, and Representative Angie Craig (all D-MN) announced that the ReConnect Program, aimed at expanding high-speed internet access in rural communities, will begin accepting Round 4 applications on September 6th. The program, which received new funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that Klobuchar, Smith and Craig helped pass earlier this year, will invest more than $1 billion to increase access to high-speed internet in small towns across the nation.
“In 2022, we should be able to deliver high-speed internet to every community in our country, regardless of their zip code,” said Klobuchar. “This historic investment in the ReConnect program, which helps bring high-speed, affordable broadband to all corners of our country, will ensure rural Minnesotan communities can access work, school, and business opportunities online. I urge those that are eligible to apply.”
“Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st Century – it isn’t just nice to have, it’s necessary if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone,” said Smith. “ReConnect funding helps connect communities in greater Minnesotan who have been left out of the digital economy. I am proud of our work to secure this funding and I encourage all eligible Minnesotans to apply.”
“Right now, many rural communities in Minnesota simply don’t have the high-quality internet access that they need and deserve – and there’s no doubt that this is holding them back,” said Craig. “So I am thrilled we have been able to secure this critical funding – bringing us one step closer to our goal of ensuring that every single Minnesotan, no matter their zip code, has access to the reliable, high-speed broadband needed to thrive in the 21st century.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making additional funding available for high-speed internet in Round 4 of the ReConnect Program. The Department will begin accepting applications on September 6 for up to $150 million in loans, up to $300 million in loan/grant combinations, and up to $700 million in grants. The Department will use funds appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S. The application deadline is November 2.
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service is not available at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area. Eligibility requirements have been updated to allow applications from areas where at least 50% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet.