By Brandon McBride
Thanks to USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service funding and Home Communications, Inc., those who live and work in a rural Kansas community don’t have to travel miles for broadband service. High school and college students can upload, research, and complete homework assignments online. Employees can work remotely, farmers can monitor operations, and businesses can successfully market and promote their products and services.
Home Communications, Inc. (HCI), based in Gypsum, Kan., is one example of how rural telecommunication service providers are investing in the future of their communities. Since they opened doors as a rural telephone company in 1933, HCI has transitioned to a broadband service provider focused on growth by expanding their customer base and service territory.
With the help of funding from Rural Development to upgrade the service and equipment, those who live and work in Gypsum can enjoy such benefits as access to broadband with a consistent, constant speed and unlimited data on HCI’s fiber network. HCI is just one of the many successful telecommunications providers that has helped rural communities connect to the world by providing broadband access to rural consumers.
Rural Development works to improve broadband access in rural areas nationwide by providing funding and technical assistance to projects to deliver broadband to rural areas. Two programs that fund broadband service for rural communities – the Farm Bill Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, and Community Connect Grant Program – are now accepting applications for funding. Both can fund broadband in unserved and underserved rural areas.
The deadline for submitting Community Connect applications is March 13, 2017.
For the Farm Bill Broadband Program, this year applicants can receive extra guidance to help strengthen funding requests during a special pre-application window that runs from January 10, 2017 to March 24, 2017. A second window will run from July 1, 2017 through September 22, 2017. During the pre-application periods, applicants can receive expert assistance from the members of our highly specialized Application Assistance Team. Composed of six highly trained program specialists, they are the “go-to” Broadband Program experts and stand ready to help applicants put together strong, high quality proposals. During the application process, participants will learn how they can contact the assistance team.
Dig a little deeper into our Farm Bill Broadband Access Program and our Community Connect Program to see if your rural community might benefit from the funding we can provide – and keep moving the ball forward on high-speed Internet communications for our rural communities.