The term “incumbent service provider”, with respect to an application submitted under this section, means an entity that, as of the date of submission of the application, is providing broadband service to not less than 5 percent of the households in the service territory proposed in the application.
Such term does not include any population described in subparagraph (H) or (I) of section 1991(a)(13) of this title.
In the case of loan guarantees issued or modified under this section, the Secretary shall charge and collect from the lender fees in such amounts as to bring down the costs of subsidies for guaranteed loans, except that such fees shall not act as a bar to participation in the programs nor be inconsistent with current practices in the marketplace.
An eligible entity that provides telecommunications or broadband service to at least 20 percent of the households in the United States may not receive an amount of funds under this section for a fiscal year in excess of 15 percent of the funds authorized and appropriated under subsection (j) for the fiscal year.
Except as provided in clause (ii), subparagraph (A)(ii) shall not apply to an incumbent service provider in the portion of a proposed service territory in which the provider is upgrading broadband service to meet the minimum acceptable level of broadband service established under subsection (e) for the existing territory of the incumbent service provider.
At least once every 2 years, the Secretary shall review, and may adjust through notice published in the Federal Register, the minimum acceptable level of broadband service established under paragraph (1) and broadband buildout requirements under paragraph (4) to ensure that high quality, cost-effective broadband service is provided to rural areas over time.
The term “broadband buildout requirement” means the level of internet service an applicant receiving assistance under this section must agree, at the time the application is finalized, to provide for the duration of any project-related agreement between the applicant and the Department.
If an applicant shows that it would be cost prohibitive to meet the broadband buildout requirements established under this paragraph for the entirety of a proposed service territory due to the unique characteristics of the proposed service territory, the Secretary and the applicant may agree to utilize substitute standards for any unserved portion of the project. Any substitute service standards should continue to consider the best technology available to meet the needs of the residents in the unserved area.
For purposes of determining whether to provide assistance for a project under this section, the Secretary shall use criteria that are technologically neutral.
The Secretary shall consider the existing recurring revenues of the entity at the time of application in determining an adequate level of credit support.
The Secretary shall ensure that the type and amount of, and method of security used to secure, any loan or loan guarantee under this section is commensurate to the risk involved with the loan or loan guarantee, particularly in any case in which the loan or loan guarantee is issued to a financially strong and stable entity, as determined by the Secretary.
With respect to payment assistance provided under paragraph (2), before entering into the agreement under which the payment assistance will be provided, the applicant and the Secretary shall agree to milestones and objectives of the project.
The Secretary and the applicant may jointly agree to amend the milestones and objectives agreed to under paragraph (3).
The Secretary may not make a payment assistance loan under paragraph (2)(B) to an entity receiving a grant under this section that is also the recipient of a loan under subchapter I or II that is associated with such grant.
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $350,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2023, to remain available until expended.
Any amounts in the reserve established for a State for a fiscal year under subparagraph (B) that are not obligated by April 1 of the fiscal year shall be available to the Secretary to make loans and loan guarantees under this section to eligible entities in any State, as determined by the Secretary.
No grant, or loan, or loan guarantee may be made under this section after September 30, 2023.