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USDA is holding back on rural broadband funding, senators say

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Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing On The Nomination Of David Bernhardt For Interior Secretary Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and eight other senators wrote to the US Department of Agriculture on Wednesday demanding that the agency extend more funding to rural communities for broadband deployment.

In 2018, Congress authorized the USDA’s ReConnect Program to provide rural communities with the funds necessary for deploying high-speed broadband (25 Mbps down) in sparsely populated areas. Internet providers can apply for loans and grants to fund their build-outs, but according to the lawmakers last Friday, the USDA has created its own restrictions on who is able to receive the funding.

As of right now, providers that have already received loans or grants to deploy satellite internet access from the Federal Communications Commission are now...

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