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USDA/RUS RIN: 0572-AC06 Publication ID: Spring 2011 
Title: Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees 
Abstract: On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) into law. The essential goal of the Recovery Act is to provide a "direct fiscal boost to help lift our Nation from the greatest economic crisis in our lifetimes and lay the foundation for future growth." The Recovery Act expanded Rural Utilities Service's (RUS') existing authority to make loans and provides new authority to make grants to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. RUS has been tasked with the time-sensitive priority of developing the regulation for this new authority. By the end of the Recovery Act, RUS had obligated 100% of appropriate funds making 320 awards totaling more than $3.5 billion. The Agency will, however, also continue to develop a final rule for the Broadband Program as authorized by The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Public Law 107-171 (2002 Farm Bill), as amended by the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). Under the 2002 Farm Bill Program, there has been more than $1.7 billion in loans for broadband deployment with more than 1,900 rural communities that will receive broadband services. The program needs to be adjusted to better serve unserved or underserved communities. In response, the RUS, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, revised the broadband rule to address this and other critical issues, and further facilitate the deployment of broadband service in rural America as directed by Congress by: (1) Clearly defining served and underserved markets based on service availability and existing competitors and target unserved in underserved areas; (2) providing potential applicants with a clear definition of which communities are eligible for funding; (3) establishing a minimum data transmission rate that the facilities financed must be able to deliver to the consumer; (4) establishing equity requirements that mitigate risks; (5) modifying market survey requirements based on service territories and existing availability of service; and (6) imposing new time limits for build-out and deployment to ensure prudent use of loan funds and timely delivery services to rural customers. A proposed rule was published in May 2007 seeking comments from interested parties. Subsequently, the rulemaking process was suspended in light of new statutory requirements provided in the 2008 Farm Bill, thus requiring further rulemaking activities. 
Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 1738   
Legal Authority: PL 107-171    7 USC 901 et seq   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  05/11/2007  72 FR 26742   
NPRM Comment Period End  07/10/2007    
Interim Final Rule  03/14/2011  76 FR 13770   
Final Rule  12/00/2011    
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Michele L Brooks
Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis
Department of Agriculture
Rural Utilities Service
Room 5159 South Building, STOP 1522, 1400 Independence Avenue SW.,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 690-1078
Fax:202 720-8435

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