USDA’s ReConnect Program Accepting Applications


The fifth round of funding makes $700 million available for rural broadband.

Jake Neenan USDA's ReConnect Program Accepting Applications hoto of a crew replacing fiber optic cable in Colorado by Travis Weger

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2024 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the fifth round of its ReConnect program.

The round program makes a total $700 million available for expanding broadband infrastructure in rural areas. That money is available in a combination of loans, which must be paid back, and grants, which do not. The breakdown is:

  • Up to $200 million for loans, maximum award of $50 million
  • Up to $200 million for loan/grant combinations, maximum award of $50 million
  • Up to $150 million available for grants, maximum award of $25 million
  • Up to $150 million available for grants serving Alaska Native corporations, Tribal governments, colonias, persistent poverty areas and socially vulnerable communities, maximum award of $25 million

In a tweak from the last ReConnect round, at least 90 percent of the households in a service area must lack sufficient access to broadband to be eligible for funding. The threshold for sufficient access has been upped this round to 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload. That does not include wireless broadband on unlicensed spectrum, which is also not eligible to be deployed with ReConnect awards.

Infrastructure funded by the program will have to provide speeds of at least 100 Mbps symmetric. Providers receiving funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s E-ACAM cost model will only be eligible for loan awards. The Rural Utility Service, the USDA agency administering ReConnect, will review the  eligibility of other FCC subsidy participants on a case-by-case basis.

ReConnect participants will also have to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, or any successor program, according to the notice of funding opportunity.

The application window is open until May 21.