Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees
The Rural Utilities Service, an agency delivering the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development Utilities Programs, hereinafter referred to as Rural Development, proposes to amend its regulation for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (Broadband Loan Program). Since the Broadband Loan Program's inception, the Agency has faced and continues to face significant challenges in administering the program, including the fierce competitive nature of the broadband market, the fact that many companies proposing to offer broadband service are start-up organizations with limited resources, continually evolving technology, and economic factors such as the higher cost of serving rural communities. Because of these challenges, the Agency has been reviewing the characteristics of the Broadband Loan Program and has determined that modifications are required to accelerate the deployment of broadband service to the rural areas of the country. Therefore, this rulemaking proposes to implement changes on the following subject matter: funding in competitive markets and new eligibility requirements; new equity and market survey requirements; and new legal notice requirements to increase transparency.