U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, on behalf of USDA, pledged his commitment this past Friday for $1.15 billion to be allocated for bringing high-speed broadband to rural communities. Internet service providers are eligible for the funds, in the form of loans and grants, if they offer download speeds of at least 100 Mbps in areas that currently lack high-speed internet. Vilsack says the effort is part of the Administration’s overall plan to “build back better”, and that priority will be placed on low-density rural areas in an attempt to further bridge the “digital divide” between rural and urban communities. Applications open on November 24 through the ReConnect Program and USDA will consider the economic needs of proposed communities, as well as the affordability of the service to be provided. Read more on USDA funding for high-speed, rural internet.