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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Rural Areas Still Getting Federal Help Linking Up

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has finalized a regulation for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, the agency has announced.

The new regulation, which finalizes a 2011 interim rule, expands access to broadband service in rural areas.

"The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, or Broadband Loan Program, offers loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "The goal of the Broadband Program is to ensure that rural consumers enjoy the same quality and range of services that are available in urban and suburban communities. This program aims to lend to entities capable of repaying its loans and that plan to offer service at a level that keeps pace with technology upgrades while meeting the demands of customers in rural America," the USDA wrote.

For example: on Jan 10, 2013, the RUS published a public notice filing of the proposed service area of Northern Wireless Internet Services LLC, a company seeking loan funding from the Broadband Loan Program to build-out broadband infrastructure to provide service to residents and businesses in rural Virginia and Maryland, according the USDA.

"Bringing broadband services to rural areas does present some challenges," the USDA said. "Because rural systems must contend with lower household density than urban systems, the cost to deploy fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and digital subscriber line (DSL) systems in urban communities is considerably lower on a per household basis, making urban systems more economical to construct. Other associated rural issues, such as environmental challenges or providing wireless service through mountainous areas, also can add to the cost of deployment. Notwithstanding these challenges and obstacles, a recent analysis by USDA's Economic Research Service concluded that broadband investment in rural areas yields significant economic and socio-economic gains."

To learn more click on the document icon for this regulation and others.

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