Rural telcos that are looking at deploying Gbps-based broadband networks will now have more financial assistance after President Obama signed into law the Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.
The act includes provisions to create the Rural Gigabit Network Pilot Program. It will make $10 million available for each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 for a total of $50 million.
Eligible companies will be able to get access to a mix of grants, loans or loan guarantees to bring "ultra-high" broadband to rural cities and towns.
One of the requirements telcos have to meet is that any proposed buildout has to be in rural areas where ultra-high speed service is not already available and it has to be completed within three years of getting the funding.
Besides the Gigabit program, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) core broadband subsidy program will remain unchanged at $25 million a year and will fund incumbent telcos. In addition, it enables incumbent telcos to challenge proposals by competitors such as local municipalities and sets a minimum speed level of 4/1 Mbps.
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