SOMERSET, Ky. – Congressman Hal Rogers announced that the Trump Administration's United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $5 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Eastern Kentucky.
"This project will connect nearly 650 households in Beattyville, Buckhorn, Livingston and surrounding communities to gigabit service," said Congressman Rogers. "We are diligently working to get broadband to every family and every student in our region. It takes a lot of time and money, and this investment from USDA allows Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative to continue extending high-performance fiber into some of our smallest, mountainous communities in Kentucky's Appalachian region."
This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.
“Broadband is a cornerstone to prosperity in Kentucky’s rural communities because it is essential to economic development, as well as access to health care, educational opportunities and connections to people and services,” USDA Kentucky State Director for Rural Development Hilda Legg said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in deploying this critical infrastructure in Kentucky and across all of America’s rural communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Peoples Telecom LLC will use a $2.4 million ReConnect grant and a $2.4 million ReConnect loan to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 1,618 people, 25 businesses, two farms, a public school, a post office and a fire station to high-speed broadband internet in Rockcastle, Perry and Lee counties in Kentucky.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.
On April 20, 2020, USDA announced the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the ReConnect Program. The second round will enable USDA to implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with our partners and continuing the success of the first round of funding. The application window for Round Two closed on April 15, 2020.
In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states. To learn more about individual investments, read USDA’s Broadband ReConnect Program report.
USDA received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.
To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
Howell Holbrook, Jr., Rockcastle Co. Judge Executive