$5 million to expand broadband in Rockcastle, Perry, Breathitt and Lee counties

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Courtesy MGN Online

SOMERSET, Ky., (WTVQ) – Almost $5 million in federal loans and grants will expand broadband access to almost 2,000 homes and businesses in four counties.

This investment announced Wednesday during a press conference in Somerset is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.

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“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, Breathitt 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.

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.

USDA received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.