Infrastructure

Rural Broadband Gets Big New Aid

By Alyson Klein — April 30, 2019 1 min read

Attention rural communities with major internet-connectivity needs: Are you looking to upgrade your broadband? The U.S. Department of Agriculture—yes, Agriculture—may have a grant and loan program for you.

The funding is available through a new, $600 million pilot program called the Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program, which Congress created last year. The money includes $200 million in grants, $200 million in low-interest loans, and $200 million in loan-grant combinations.

The program is for rural communities with really slow internet service or no service at all. That’s defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and less than 1 megabit per second upload. To put that in perspective, that speed would make it difficult to stream a video on say, Netflix, without service interruptions.

School districts aren’t explicitly on the list of eligible applicants, which includes telecommunications companies, utilities, internet-service providers, and state and local government agencies.

The deadlines for this funding are coming up soon. Communities have until May 31 to apply for the grants-only package, until June 21 to apply for the loan/grant combination, and until July 12 for the low-interest loans.

This, of course, isn’t the federal government’s only investment in broadband, including for underserved communities. The government also operates the E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries cover the cost of internet and other telecommunications services. That program has helped fuel huge gains in school internet connectivity: 44.7 million students now have access to internet speeds of at least 100 kilobits per second, up from 4 million students in 2013.

And Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chairman of the House education committee, is hoping to increase that investment through a $100 billion new infrastructure bill that would help districts cover the cost of both brick-and-mortar and digital upgrades.

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2019 edition of Education Week as Rural Broadband Gets Big New Aid

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Infrastructure Q&A How to Expand Home Internet Connectivity for K-12 Students Over the Long Haul
One Florida district is mapping its region and prioritizing communities with the greatest economic needs for home internet access.
6 min read
This "heat map" generated by GIS technology uses progressively darker colors to illustrate the areas of Palm Beach County with the highest concentrations of families who lack home internet access.
This "heat map" generated by GIS technology uses progressively darker colors to illustrate the areas of Palm Beach County with the highest concentrations of families who lack home internet access.
Courtesy of Donna Goldstein
Infrastructure The Big Pandemic Tech Challenge: Reliable, High-Quality Internet Experiences for All
Simply providing a student with a device and internet connection at home isn’t enough to ensure high-quality online learning.
12 min read
A team of people build a path across the digital divide.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty
Infrastructure Half of Districts Lack Connectivity Needed for Widespread Videoconferencing, Device Usage
Two-thirds of America's public school students attend schools that may not provide enough bandwidth for life after COVID-19.
3 min read
.
iStock/Getty
Infrastructure Internet Access Is a Civil Rights Issue
In the world’s wealthiest country, why is broadband access denied to so many and in such high numbers? Mark Lieberman investigates.
7 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Illustration by Jamiel Law