The purpose of this section is to encourage the expansion and extension of middle mile broadband infrastructure to connect underserved rural areas to the backbone of the Internet.
For the purposes of this section, the term “middle mile infrastructure” means any broadband infrastructure that does not connect directly to end-user locations (including anchor institutions) and may include interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, data centers, or special access transport to rural areas.
Entities that receive assistance to construct, improve, or acquire middle mile infrastructure under this section shall be eligible to apply for additional funds under this subchapter to provide for retail broadband service to end users.
The proceeds of assistance provided under this section may be used to carry out a project in a proposed service territory only if, as of the date the application for assistance under this section is submitted, there is not adequate middle mile infrastructure available to support broadband service for eligible rural communities that would be provided access to the middle mile infrastructure.
All loans and loan guarantees provided under this section shall be made subject to such terms, conditions, and adequacy of security requirements as may be imposed by the Secretary. If the middle mile infrastructure would not provide adequate security due to long-term leasing arrangements, the Secretary shall require substitute security in such form and substance as are acceptable to the Secretary.
There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2023.