USDA Rural Development ReConnect grants will support more broadband fiber service in seven counties.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) praised the award of more than $30.0 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development funding for broadband fiber delivery to residents in seven rural Mississippi counties.

Senator Hyde-Smith said two USDA ReConnect Program grants have been approved for TEC of Jackson and Bay Springs Telephone Co. for fiber-to-home network service in Copiah, Jasper, Lawrence, Newton, Simpson, Scott, and Smith counties.

“The USDA ReConnect Loan and Grant Program furnishes loans and grants to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas,” the website states.

TEC of Jackson was awarded a $22.2 million grant to connect 9,770 people, 92 businesses, and 310 farms in Copiah, Scott, Lawrence, Newton, and Simpson counties.

The federal grant will be matched with $7.4 million from the applicants, making $29.6 million available for this network.

Bay Springs Telephone Company will receive an $8.1 million grant to extend internet service to 1,123 people, nine businesses, and 57 farms in Jasper and Smith counties. Another $2.7 million in applicant funding will make $10.8 million available for the project.

“Both ReConnect grants announced Thursday will involve participation in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline program,” a release from Hyde-Smith’s office said.

The Mississippi Senator said that these new ReConnect grants will continue USDA Rural Development investment in bringing affordable internet service to rural communities in Mississippi, including underserved areas.

“Access to reliable broadband service through this program will help improve all aspects of rural life—our homes, businesses, farms, and all levels of public services,” Hyde-Smith continued.