Vice President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $4 billion in loans and grants aimed at expanding broadband access to rural and underserved communities.
The Department of Agriculture will use approximately $2 billion to provide grants, while the remaining funds will be used to make up to $7 billion in loans, Vilsack announced.
The Recovery Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
Vilsack said the Broadband Initiatives Program will bring high-speed internet service to communities across the country, create thousands of jobs and improve economic, healthcare and educational opportunities available in rural communities.
Other funds available through USDA have gone to support programs for funding purchases of farm equipment.
"This funding is a down payment on the president's lower-case commitment to bring the educational and economic benefits of the internet to all communities," he said.
NTIA and RUS will be accepting applications for loans, grants and loan/grant combinations to be awarded by each agency under a single application form beginning July 14, 2009 through 5:00 p.m. EDT August 14, 2009.