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Since 2001 the Rural Utilities Service has been charged with issuing $1.35 billion in loans to provide high-speed internet in underserved rural communities.

A 2005 analysis of these loans found many “irregularities” in the RUS program. Now a new federal report concludes: “We remain concerned with RUS’ current direction of the Broadband program, particularly as they receive greater funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, including its provisions for transparency and accountability.”

Among findings in the new study were that RUS had made loans to provide broadband in 148 communities “within 30 miles of cities,” including Chicago and Las Vegas, and  that 77% of all loans had gone to areas that already had broadband access available through private companies.

For us, the most startling finding, however, was that RUS continues to have more loan money than it can spend in the rural broadband fund, because too few eligible borrowers have applied for the federal loans.

Read the complete report here

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