The Broadband ReConnect Program furnishes loans and grants to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.
Announcement : The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces that for the period from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, all RUS borrower covenant requirements are waived with respect to meeting their loan agreement financial ratios, as a result of the economic disruptions attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access to broadband has become essential for the social and economic benefits it provides to American residents, businesses, governments and communities. Broadband is crucial for increased health, educational and economic opportunities, as well as for job and business creation and growth. Broadband can help close the digital divide between rural and urban communities.
USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Programs provide a variety of loans and grants to build and expand broadband networks. Loans to build broadband networks and deliver service to rural households and businesses, provide capital for rural telecommunications companies and broadband providers. Grants are reserved for communities with the highest need.
Telecommunications Loan and Grant Programs offered are:
- Community Connect Grants
- Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants
- Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantees
- Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees
Eligible applicants include for-profit and non-profit entities, tribes, municipalities and cooperatives. USDA particularly encourages investments in tribal and economically disadvantaged areas.
Once funds are awarded, Rural Development monitors the projects to make sure they are completed, meet all program requirements and are making efficient use of Federal resources.
Each program has different applicant and project eligibility requirements and program objectives.
Contact: Laurel Leverrier, Assistant Administrator, Telecom Program, at (202)720-9556
Functional Structure is focused on Customer Service
The RUS Telecom Program is comprised of three divisions: the Loan Origination and Approval Division (LOAD), Portfolio Management and Risk Assessment Division (PMRAD), and the Policy and Outreach Division (POD).
Where a Loan or Grant Application Starts, is Completed and Submitted
LOAD is the primary contact for all telecom borrowers and grant applicants. It consists of a Financial Operations Branch, an Engineering Branch and two Field Staff Branches which supervise General Field Representatives (GFRs). The GFRs help borrowers develop and submit loan applications and support materials. The Financial Operations and Engineering Branches within LOAD provide guidance to borrowers for all financial and operational activities, as well as assistance with the development and approval of loan applications and environmental clearance. LOAD is also responsible for grant application review, scoring and award. Activities within LOAD continue through loan/grant approval and the obligation of funds.
Contact: Randall Millhiser, Acting, Deputy Assistant Administrator, LOAD, at (202) 720-0800
General Field Representatives providing Customer Service to Our Borrowers
The Telecom Program maintains a staff of General Field Representatives (GFRs) stationed around the country. GFRs are an integral part of our outreach delivery system. GFRs meet regularly with borrowers at the borrowers’ locations. GFRs serve as the local information conduit for the borrowers and headquarters staff. They keep borrowers current on issues that profoundly impact their business.
Post-Loan Services Ensure Loan Funds are Advanced; Financial and Operational Performance Supports the Borrowers’ Ability to Repay
The Portfolio Management and Risk Assessment Division (PMRAD) consist of four branches: two Post-Loan Servicing Engineering Branches, a Post-Loan Servicing Financial Operations Branch, and a Portfolio Management Financial Operations Branch. All four of the branches provide post-loan and grant services to the loans and grants made by the Telecom Program, with the Engineering Branches primarily involved with the review and approval of contracts and approval of advances of loan and grant funds for approved projects. The Operations Branches review financial and operational performance of borrowers and grantees, monitor compliance and repayment, and address other issues pertaining to loan and grant legal requirements.
Contact: Peter Aimable, Deputy Assistant Administrator, PMRAD, at (202) 720-1025
Being Responsive to Market Needs and Staying Ahead of Industry Trends
The Policy and Outreach Division (POD) consists of a Policy and Outreach Branch (OPOB) and an Engineering Branch. The Policy and Outreach Branch reviews agency policies, revises them as needed and communicates them to our customers. POD also plans and coordinates outreach activities with borrowers, associations and other Telecom Program stakeholders. Outreach efforts provide valuable opportunities for customer engagement and provide important and timely feedback for the Telecom Program to update its products and services. The Engineering Branch develops and maintains engineering bulletins, regulations and related activities.
Contact: Kenneth Kuchno, Deputy Assistant Administrator, POD, at (202) 720-0667