Iowa Cable Companies Sue USDA Over Broadband Loans

USDA approves loan in town where two cable providers already exist.

USDA's broadband loan program is being challenged in a lawsuit, after a small Iowa firm, Lisco, received a loan for a fiber-to-the home network in Fairfield, Iowa, a 10,000-people town that already is served by two other broadband providers.

USDA's low-interest loan program is part of USDA's initiative to install broadband networks across rural America in the upcoming years. Mediacom, a cable operator serving mostly rural communities, and the Iowa Cable and Telecommunications Association, filed a suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, arguing that the loan program was intended to help service providers offer broadband in rural areas where service is not currently available. By approving Lisco's $9.5 million, Mediacom claims it is faced with an unfair market advantage.

The suit's goal is to force USDA to rewrite the regulations that determine how the program is administered, and also to block Lisco's loan.


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