The third round of financing for the Broadband ReConnect Program was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which awarded $759 million to rural broadband projects in 24 states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and Palau.

This is the third ReConnect round’s largest money pot to date. In July, the government distributed $401 million to 11 states, and in September, it distributed $502 million to 20 states. In total, USDA has committed $1.6 billion to the third ReConnect financing cycle.

49 projects involving internet infrastructure are covered under the $759 million in total. Of that sum, $667.6 million goes toward grant awards, while $91.5 million goes toward loans.

The largest grant award went to Palau National Communications Corporation ($35 million), then Western New Mexico Telephone Company ($34.9 million). Palau’s grant will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network across six islands and three educational facilities. And Western New Mexico Telephone Company will put the money toward an FTTP network covering 678 homes and 10 businesses.

Other notable grant recipients include Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Telephone Company ($34.5 million), Alaska’s Dena’ Nena’ Henash tribal nonprofit ($30.3 million), and Illinois’ Shelby Electric Cooperative ($23.7 million), which will deploy FTTP to 4,057 households, 511 farms and 61 businesses.

Of the $759 million announced today, $468 million is made available through the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.power lines rural

Of the $759 million announced today, $468 million is made available through the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Georgia’s Public Service Telephone Company received the largest loan ($36.5 million), which will support the installation of FTTP in over 20,000 residences.

ReConnect funding can be utilized for a variety of things, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a press conference with journalists. For instance, operators can build or upgrade the infrastructure needed to deliver fixed broadband service.

They can pay for appropriate pre-application costs and purchase an existing system that doesn’t currently offer enough access to high-speed internet, the expert continued.

According to Vilsack, $468 million of the $759 million announced today is funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a $65 billion law.

Despite the fact that some operators have received sizable ReConnect awards, this does not always guarantee that their fibre deployment costs will be lower. Alaska Telephone Co., which won $33 million in the previous batch of ReConnect awards, expects to pay a staggering cost of $204,000 per passing. ReConnect round four applications are well underway, as the deadline is next week on November 2. Vilsack added USDA will open applications for a fifth-round sometime in 2023, with funds consisting of “appropriated resources in our regular budget process.”