rural broadband loan programThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published its Fiscal Year 2016 Notice of Solicitation for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.  The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will accept applications from April 8-July 7, 2016.  Available loans range from $10,000-$10 million.

The loan program (also referred to as the Farm Bill Broadband Program or simply the Broadband Program) can be used by LLCs, corporations, cooperatives, state or local governments, and Native American Tribes/tribal organizations.  Loan recipients must meet minimum speed requirements of 10 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload, and complete build-out for the proposed area within 3 years.

To qualify, applicants must serve Eligible Rural Areas as defined by the RUS.  Areas are eliminated from this designation if the population is greater than 20,000 inhabitants, or if the area is located adjacent to a city or town with a population greater than 50,000.  In addition, at least 15% of the households in the area must be unserved, and the areas cannot have three or more incumbent service providers.  Areas will also be eliminated if they overlap with proposed funded service areas of current RUS borrowers.  USDA has created a mapping tool to help determine this eligibility.

The Utah Broadband Outreach Center can be used as a resource for applicants seeking clarification about service availability. The Utah Broadband Map shows speed and coverage areas for the state.  For questions regarding the application process please contact the local USDA office for help.

Read more about the Broadband Loan Program Here:

https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/farm-bill-broadband-loans-loan-guarantees