The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $7.1 million for two high-speed broadband projects in north central Arkansas on Tuesday (Jan. 21).
The funding is part of the USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments, part of $600 million in new federal funding through grants, loans and combination funds.
The new announcements include a $1.7 million ReConnect Program grant and a $1.7 million loan to upgrade facilities from copper cable and drops to a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that is expected to connect 548 households in Baxter and Marion counties through the Yelcot Telephone Company.
The second announcement involves a $3.7 million ReConnect Program grant to upgrade facilities from copper cable and drops to an FTTH network that is expected to connect 702 households, 15 pre-subscribed farms and a pre-subscribed business in Stone County through the Mountain View Telephone Company.
All told, about 1,250 households will be affected.
“Through USDA’s ReConnect Program, more than 1,250 Arkansans living in rural communities will get access to the latest broadband technology that will connect them to opportunities in education, health care and economic development,” said David Branscum, USDA Rural Development Arkansas State Director. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has made deploying this critical infrastructure across rural America a top priority because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. Recently, the USDA held an all-day conference in Arkansas to discuss how to access funding for the ReConnect program.