Expanding broadband in rural areas
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Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21), along with some of her colleagues, introduced the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act, also known as the B-CROP Act.
The bipartisan bill would award grant funding to rural broadband projects in high-need in combination with the current loan funding through the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) co-introduced a companion bill in the Senate earlier this year.
“Broadband is critical infrastructure in a 21st century economy so that our North Country businesses can compete around the globe,” Stefanik said. “Broadband access is also important to ensuring our children have access to the educational resources they need to succeed. This important legislation would provide greater resources to build this 21st Century infrastructure in the North Country and in rural areas across our nation.
I am pleased to join Congressman Pocan to introduce this bipartisan legislation in the House, and I urge my colleagues to support this effort,” Stefanik continued.
Specifically, the B-CROP Act does the following:
- Allows for grants of up to 50 percent of a project’s cost, and up to 75 percent for remote, high-need areas, to be awarded in combination with the current loan funding available through USDA’s Rural Utilities Service.
- Helps enhance the economic feasibility of projects serving rural and tribal areas.
- Gives highest priority to projects in areas that are currently unserved by high-speed broadband.
- Coordinates with the FCC’s Universal Service High-Cost Support programs to complement those federal investments, responsibly spending taxpayer money.
- Increases the authorized funding for RUS’s Broadband programs to £50 million per fiscal year.
- Provides adequate resources to private-sector providers — including corporations, LLCs, cooperatives or mutual organizations, state or local governments and Indian tribes or tribal organizations — to expand broadband access to unserved rural areas.
- Gives partnership projects special attention, including initiatives that leverage matching funds and that work with anchor institutions like health centers, libraries, colleges, universities and other educational entities.