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Rural Broadband Financing and Development Resources

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

  • Bank Financing for Rural Broadband Initiatives Video: This brief OCC video highlights the important role that banks can play in helping rural communities develop high speed broadband systems and reviews how banks may receive CRA receive consideration for these activities. The video discusses how banks and community leaders developed a cooperatively-owned fiber optic network serving 10 towns and 17 townships across four counties in south central Minnesota.
  • Expanding Internet Access: Bank Financing for Rural Broadband Initiatives (November 2018): This edition of Community Developments Investments highlights how national banks and federal savings associations can help rural communities across the nation gain reliable, high-speed internet access through the development of broadband networks.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA)

  • USDA Telecommunications Programs: USDA programs a variety of funding programs for for-profit and nonprofit entities, tribes, municipalities and cooperatives to build and expand broadband networks. USDA loans help to build broadband networks and deliver service to rural households and businesses, provide capital for rural telecommunications companies, broadband providers, wireless companies and fiber-to-the-home providers. Grants are reserved for communities with the highest need. Telecommunications Programs offered include:
  • USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program: The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly. The utility is responsible for repayment to USDA.

U.S. Department of Commerce/National Telecommunications and Information Administration

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA): BroadbandUSA program promotes innovation and economic growth by supporting efforts to expand broadband access and meaningful use across America. BroadbandUSA serves communities, industry and nonprofits that want to expand broadband infrastructure and promote digital inclusion. BroadbandUSA's services are driven by the needs and interests of state and local broadband leaders, and focuses on supporting local planning efforts, helping to identify funding, and implementing local broadband programs.

  • BroadbandUSA: Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships : This publication provides an overview of common broadband partnerships, the factors communities should consider in developing a successful partnership model, and tips and best practices NTIA has observed through its administration of broadband grants to public, private and joint projects across the country.
  • Technical Assistance: BroadbandUSA provides technical assistance to communities that want to improve their broadband capacity and use broadband more effectively.
  • Resources: BroadbandUSA provides expert, impartial advice and field-proven tools for assessing broadband adoption, planning new infrastructure, and engaging a wide range of partners in broadband projects. This BroadbandUSA brochure (PDF) describes the services NTIA offers.
  • BroadbandUSA Webinars: Practical Broadband Conversations: These are monthly, hour-long webinars presenting practitioners speaking and taking questions on the range of topics addressed by BroadbandUSA, including best practices for improving broadband deployment, digital literacy, digital inclusion and e-government.
  • Broadband USA Connecting America's Communities (PDF): This Glossary provides terms and acronyms that are commonly used by the broadband industry.

U.S. Department of Education (DOE)

The DOE has developed a school and broadband availability map and search engine as part of a collaborative effort with the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This education-focused broadband map and database builds upon the NTIA State Broadband Data and Development Program that surveys bi-annually broadband availability and connectivity for the 50 United States, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission

Broadband in Rural Areas: The FCC assists rural communities in developing strategic plans for broadband deployment that includes creating a comprehensive business proposal to broadband providers.

  • FCC National Broadband Map: The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The National Broadband Map provides information on broadband technology, speed, and fixed residential providers by address nationwide.
  • Getting Broadband: This FCC guide provides basis information about broadband or high-speed internet access, the different types, how it works, and how consumers might get broadband to their communities.

Other Resources

Closing the Digital Divide – A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations: This publication prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas provides information for bankers seeking to bring digital opportunity to underserved, rural and tribal communities through access to high-speed broadband.

Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR): The ILSR provides innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. ILSR maintains the following resources: