2020 USDA ReConnect Grant - Frequently Asked QuestionsSubmitted by dbradt on Tue, 10/20/2020 - 09:48
Jo-Carroll Energy (JCE) was selected to receive a $14 million ReConnect grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas. This grant investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.
Jo-Carroll Energy will use the $14 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premise network to an area with 7,629 people, 378 farms, 150 businesses, eight public schools, three fire stations, two post offices and two museums to high-speed broadband internet in Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside and Stephenson counties in Illinois.
The grant will accelerate buildout of high-speed fiber internet to rural areas by Jo-Carroll Energy’s broadband division, Sand Prairie. JCE’s grant application included eight separate proposed funded service areas (PFSAs) 250 square miles in portions of Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Carroll, and Whiteside Counties in Illinois, as well as small areas in Grant and Lafayette counties in Wisconsin. The Fiber Communities map on Sand Prairie’s website at connectSP.com is being updated with 21 new polygons, or fiber neighborhoods, that fall within the eight PFSAs.
Jo-Carroll Energy plans to complete the proposed fiber neighborhoods in five years as required by the grant.
The areas were selected due to significant lack of adequate broadband service and, in part, due to strong member interest.
What is being constructed?
A high-speed, high capacity fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network within the 21 fiber neighborhoods will be constructed of both aerial and underground fiber applications following the existing Jo-Carroll Energy utility services, where available. Fiber internet utilizes a fiber-optic cable to connect to the Internet. Fiber allows individuals and families to do more online at the same time. Unlike traditional internet services, fiber provides better reliability, faster speeds, and lower latency. For example, your family will be able to stream on multiple devices, play online games, and browse the Internet without disruption.
When will construction begin?
Sand Prairie will fulfill the grant requirement of a five-year build out to complete construction of 21 fiber neighborhoods. All 21 fiber neighborhoods related to the grant award will be begin in ‘Pre-construction’, Step 3 in Sand Prairie’s regular six-step buildout process. Final engineering and project coordination are finalized during this step. The following fiber neighborhoods are estimated to begin ‘Construction’ (Step 4) in Summer 2021.
- CDW3 - Chadwick (adjacent area)
- FTN1 - Fenton
- G20 – Galena (adjacent area)
- G18 – Galena (adjacent area)
- G21 – Galena (adjacent area)
- MCS1 – Mount Carroll (adjacent area)
- SR2 – Sand Ridge (between East Dubuque and Menominee)
Each year of the five-year build out will be announced in December of the preceding year; the 2022 construction schedule will be announced in December 2021.
What is the earliest fiber service will be available at my location?
Fiber service typically becomes available 3-6 months after fiber neighborhood construction has begun. Please follow your fiber neighborhood here. We encourage potential subscribers to sign-up at connectsp.com/iwantfiber.
Why was this area selected?
The grant area encompasses members in the unserved and underserved areas across Jo-Carroll’s Energy service area that qualified per the grant criteria. Sand Prairie has divided these areas into the 21 fiber neighborhoods published at https://connectsp.com/fiber/communities/usda2020. Follow our email communications and our social media pages for updates and additional information.
How can I determine if I am in the grant area?
You can check what fiber neighborhood you’re in by providing your address at: https://connectsp.com/iwantfiber. Or you can visit the Grant fiber neighborhood link.
I am located in a grant area. Can I sign-up for the internet service?
All grant fiber neighborhoods are accepting sign-up. Please sign-up for service at https://connectsp.com/iwantfiber.
What if I am in a non-grant area?
Sand Prairie understands that high-speed internet is essential especially in the world we currently are living in. The rural areas are especially difficult to find reliable, high-speed broadband. However, Sand Prairie is dedicated to finding options to speed progress towards the goal of bringing fiber service to all members who need it.
Sand Prairie continues to seek multiple grant and funding opportunities, particularly in unserved or underserved areas. We will keep you informed of all progress.
Interest levels help the cooperative determine where we build the next fiber neighborhood. Please continue to encourage your neighbors to submit a short and simple interest form by visiting connectsp.com/iwantfiber.
What internet packages will be available?
Sand Prairie offers fiber internet packages with download speeds of 25, 250, 1000, and 2000 megabits per second along with a managed Wi-Fi router. Reference our fiber services at: https://connectsp.com/fiber
How much will the internet service cost?
Monthly fiber package pricing starts at $59.99. For more details and pricing, please visit https://connectsp.com/fiber.
Will a contract be required?
No, Sand Prairie believes that you will be so impressed by the fiber service, we offer no monthly or annual contracts.
Are there data caps or limits on internet usage?
No, unlike with cellular and other internet service providers, we do not have a limit on data usage.