Thursday, February 07, 2019

USDA launches toolkit to help rural communities get broadband service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development has created a free toolkit aimed at helping rural communities get broadband service.

The e-Connectivity toolkit includes a list of 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment, allowing customers to see which ones are the best fit. The programs are organized by the type of customer (e.g., farmers, for-profit businesses, non-profits and government entities) and by what each program offers (such as technical assistance, training and workforce development, agriculture technology research, and permit reimbursement).

The toolkit also includes a user guide and examples of how some rural communities are using e-Connectivity resources to increase broadband services.

"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," Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett said in a statement. "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 toolkit is part of the ReConnect program, a new broadband loan and grant pilot initiative aimed at funding rural broadband development.

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