Expansion of 911 Access Loan Program

On September 12, 2011, USDA published in the Federal Register interim telecommunications loan program eligibility requirements on financing the construction of interoperable, integrated public safety communications networks in rural areas. The new eligibility criteria will allow USDA to leverage public and private resources to speed the rural deployment of dual-use public safety/commercial wireless networks, address homeland security communications needs along America's rural international borders, and finance enhanced 911 capabilities for carriers and communities. Advantages include the ability to precisely locate rural wireless 911 calls, contact 911 via text message, or send emergency responders photos or videos of crime scenes or accidents. The new regulation would also give RUS ability to finance wireless upgrades for public safety and security.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Any entity eligible to borrow from the RUS;
  • State or local governments;
  • Indian Tribes (as defined in Section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b); or
  • An emergency communications equipment provider that in the sole discretion of RUS offers adequate security for a loan where the State or local government that has jurisdiction over the proposed project is prohibited by law from acquiring debt.

Applications:

Applications are accepted through the RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program. An application guide will be made available soon which will provide information on the process for applying for this funding.

Fund Uses:

Loans made or guaranteed by the Administrator of RUS will be made in conformance with the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (RE Act), as amended (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.), and 7CFR chapter XVII. RUS provides borrowers with specialized and technical accounting, engineering, and other managerial assistance in the construction and operation of their facilities when necessary to aid in the development of rural telephone service and to protect loan security. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) makes loans to:
     (1) Furnish and improve telephone service in rural areas; and
     (2) To finance facilities and equipment which expand, improve or provide:
          (i) 911 access;
          (ii) Integrated interoperable emergency communications, including multiuse networks that provide commercial or transportation information services in addition to emergency communications services;
          (iii) Homeland security communications;
          (iv) Transportation safety communications; or
          (v) Location technologies used outside an urbanized area.

For the purposes of paragraph (2), “rural areas” means any area, as confirmed by the latest decennial census of the Bureau of the Census, which is not located within:

(1) A city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or
(2) An urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants.

Resources:

Contact Information:

For questions, please contact:
Northern Division at 202-720-1025;
Southern Division at 202-720-0800