Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program

 

The ReConnect Program is a broadband pilot program that provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combination awards to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. An essential goal of the ReConnect Program is to expand broadband service to rural areas without sufficient access to broadband, defined as 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. In facilitating the expansion of broadband services and infrastructure, the pilot will fuel long-term rural economic development and opportunities in rural America.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Active
Program Number
10.752
Federal Agency/Office
Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants; E - Direct Loans
Program Accomplishments
Not applicable.
Authorization
The Act appropriates $600,000,000, to remain available until expended, for the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a new broadband loan and grant pilot program under the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.). At least 90 percent of the households to be served by a project receiving a loan or grant under the pilot program shall be in a rural area without sufficient access to broadband, defined for this pilot program as 10 Mbps downstream, and 1 Mbps upstream., Title VII—General Provisions, Part N/A, Section 779
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Applicants must submit unqualified, audited financial statements for the two previous years from the date the application is submitted. Applicants may have limited eligibility for the program depending on the characteristics of the proposed funded service area defined in the application.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Not applicable.
Credentials/Documentation
Applicants must submit their applications online through the ReConnect Program Portal's online application system. The online application requires applicants to provide documentation related to the organization; relationships with parent, subsidiary, or other affiliated entities; state or tribal certifications; organization financial position; existing network; and the proposed project.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. Coordination is required with state(s) or tribe(s), depending on the organization and proposed project. An EIS or EA may be required.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Applicants must create a Level II eAuthentication Account, register in SAM.gov, acquire a DUNS number, create a Resolution identifying the applicant and specific representatives, request access to the ReConnect Online Application System, create an online account in the ReConnect Program Portal, create an application, and submit the application online. The online application system guides applicants as they complete their application.
Award Procedure
The Agency approves the award. Successful applicants will receive an offer letter and award documents from RUS following award notification. No funds will be disbursed under this program until all other sources of funding have been obtained and any other pre-award conditions have been met. RUS loan and grant advances are made at the request of the Awardee according to the procedures stipulated in the Award Documents.
Deadlines
April 23, 2019 to May 31, 2019 All applications for 100% grant funding must be submitted by this deadline. April 23, 2019 to June 21, 2019 All applications for 50/50 loan/grant funding must be submitted by this deadline. April 23, 2019 to July 12, 2019 All applications for 100% loan funding must be submitted by this deadline.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Not applicable.
Appeals
Not applicable.
Renewals
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
The ReConnect Program specifies evaluation criteria for the competitive windows (i.e., grant and 50/50 loan/grant combination). Applications are scored based on rurality of the proposed funded service area; the number of farms, businesses, healthcare, educational, and critical community facilities served; performance of the offered service; presence of certain state broadband activities; and presence of tribal lands in the proposed funded service area.
How may assistance be used?
Award funds may be used to pay for the following costs: (i) To fund the construction or improvement of facilities, including buildings and land, required to provide broadband service, including facilities required for providing other services over the same facilities, such as equipment required to comply with CALEA; (ii) To fund reasonable preapplication expenses in an amount not to exceed five percent of the award. Preapplication expenses may be reimbursed only if they are incurred after the publication date of this FOA, and properly documented. Preapplication expenses must be included in the first request for award funds, and will be funded with either grant or loan funds. If the funding category applied for has a grant component, then grant funds will be used for this purpose; (iii) To fund the acquisition of an existing system that does not currently provide sufficient access to broadband for upgrading that system to meet the requirements of this FOA. The cost of the acquisition is limited to 40 percent of the amount requested. Acquisitions can only be considered in the 100 percent loan category; and (iv) To fund terrestrial-based facilities for satellite broadband service, provided the applicant clearly identifies the PFSA, demonstrates the ability to provide 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream simultaneously to every premises in the PFSA, and offers subscribers reasonable service plans that do not cap bandwidth usage.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Reporting
Performance Reports: See Cash and Progress Reports for relevant details.
Auditing
Awardees must submit annual comparable audited financial statements along with a report on compliance and on internal control over financial reporting, and management letter in accordance with the requirements of 7 CFR part 1773.
Records
Awardee records shall be retained and preserved in accordance with the provisions of 7 CFR part 1770, subpart A. In addition, awardees must adopt a system of accounts for maintaining financial records acceptable to the Agency, as described in 7 CFR part 1770, subpart B.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching is . For the grant, applicants must provide a matching contribution equal to 25 percent of the cost of the overall project.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Assistance is available under the current Funding Opportunity Announcement, published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2018. The current application windows opened on April 23, 2019 and close on May 31, 2019 (grant), June 21, 2019 (loan/grant combination), and July 12, 2019 (loan). Funding is available until expended. Future rounds of the ReConnect Program are anticipated to take place in FY 2020.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
None/Not specified.
Headquarters Office
Chad Parker
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250 USA
chad.parker@usda.gov
Phone: 202) 720–9554
Website Address
https://www.usda.gov/reconnect
Financial Information
Account Identification
12-4146-0-3-452
Obligations
(Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 18$600,000,000.00; FY 19 est $550,000,000.00; FY 20 - (Direct Loans) FY 18 FY 19 FY 20 -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
FY 2018: $600,000,000, to remain available until expended FY 2019: $550,000,000 (of which, $125,000,000 is to remain available until expended and $425,000,000 is to be treated as a reprogramming per Sec. 716 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, also to remain available until expended)
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
See Forms and Resources for a list of all official published information: https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/forms-and-resources
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2018 None. The current fiscal year is the first year that this pilot program is taking place. There are no funded projects in prior fiscal years.
Fiscal Year 2019 Funding might be used for a project that proposes to construct a fiber-to-the-premises network that will serve a rural area that currently lacks sufficient access to broadband.

 



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