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Deadline for rural broadband internet grants extended

MEMPHIS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended a deadline for funding requests by rural communities and businesses seeking to improve high-speed broadband internet access.
The department said in a news release Monday that the application deadline for the ReConnect Pilot Program is now April 15.
Rural areas around the country have been clamoring for more high-speed internet access for use in schools, libraries, homes and businesses such as farms.
The federal ReConnect program provides loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the country. In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to the USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services under the program.
Several communities in Tennessee are receiving grants from the program.
The Agriculture Department said in February that it is investing $9 million on high-speed broadband internet projects in 10 rural Tennessee counties. They are Cumberland, Houston, Henry, Maury, Montgomery, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Williamson and Wilson counties.
In October, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited the West Tennessee city of Halls to announce a $2.85 million grant to improve broadband internet connectivity for 347 households and one community facility over an area of 435 square miles (1,125 square kilometers) in rural Lauderdale County.