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Notice

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program

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AGENCY:

Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice of funds availability.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency delivering the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Programs, announces funding available for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee program. For FY 2005, no less than $2.157 billion in loans is available, $2.032 billion for direct cost-of-money loans, $46 million for direct 4-percent loans, and $79 million for loan guarantees.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jonathan P. Claffey, Acting Assistant Administrator, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, STOP 1590, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-1590, telephone (202) 720-9554, Facsimile (202) 720-0810.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

General Information

During FY 2005, no less than $2.157 billion will be made available for loans and loan guarantees for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. Of the total loan funds available, $2.032 billion will be available for direct cost-of-money loans, $46 million for 4-percent direct loans, and $79 million for loan guarantees. The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program is authorized by the Rural Electrification Act (7 U.S.C. 601) (the Act), as added by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Public Law 101-171.

Applications must be submitted in accordance with 7 CFR part 1738. This part and an application guide to assist in the preparation of applications are available in the Internet at: http://www.usda.gov/​rus/​telecom/​broadband.htm. Application guides may also be requested from RUS by contacting the agency contact.

Agency Contacts

For application information, contact the following individual:

Kenneth Kuchno, Director, Broadband Division, Telecommunications Program, RUS/USDA, Room 2846, Stop 1599, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-1599. (202) 690-4673.

Minimum and Maximum Loan Amounts

Loans and loan guarantees under this authority will not be made for less than $100,000. Maximum loan amounts apply only to the direct 4-percent loan program. The maximum amount available for any one applicant for a direct 4-percent loan is $7,500,000.

Minimum Rate of Data Transmission Criteria

The Secretary of Agriculture determines what qualifies as broadband service for the purpose of determining eligibility for financial assistance under the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. During fiscal year 2005, to qualify as broadband service, the minimum rate-of-data transmission shall be 200 kilobits/second in the customer's connection to the network, both from the provider to the customer (downstream) and from the customer to the provider (upstream).

State Allocations

The annual state allocation will not be made for Fiscal Year 2005. To ensure the obligations of funds by April, as required by the Farm Bill, an annual application submission deadline of January 31 for funding from the state allocation reserves was adopted and published in the enacting regulations. As this deadline has expired for Fiscal Year 2005, there will be no state allocation.

4-Percent Direct Loans

An applicant will be eligible for a direct 4-percent loan if (1) the community being served has a population of less than 2,500, and is not Start Printed Page 10596currently receiving broadband service as defined at § 1738.11(b)(1), (2) the per capita income in the county being served as a percent of national per capita income, is not more than 65 percent of the national per capita income, as determined by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, at http://www.bea.doc.gov/​bea/​regional/​reis, and using the data for the most recent year published as of the date of application, and (3) the population density, calculated as the total number of persons in the service area divided by the square miles of the service area is not more than 20 persons per square mile.

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Dated: February 28, 2005.

Raymond P. Marchiori,

Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.

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[FR Doc. 05-4241 Filed 3-3-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-15-P