Money will go to state/broadband provider partnerships
As explained in our January 18 e-Lert, Congress established a new $288 million grant program designed to support broadband infrastructure deployment funded through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). After anxiously waiting for months for NTIA to announce the details, the agency released its Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) this week for the Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) and set a deadline of August 17, 2021, for applications.
This funding is available only to fixed broadband providers that partner with their states. Also, the program excludes funding to any areas currently funded by federal or state funding programs, including those that receive Universal Service or ReConnect funds from the Rural Utilities Services (RUS). If these criteria are not an issue for your company, and you are interested in pursuing this funding opportunity, the clock is ticking for you to develop a partnership and find an area to secure a portion of the funding. NTIA is expecting to award 200 grants between $5 million and $30 million per award to covered partnerships and is not requiring cost sharing or matching funds.
What to do now to get started:
- Reach out to your state, or political subdivision of your state, to determine partnership opportunities and formulate the partnership’s description. The lead applicant must be the governmental entity.
- Locate eligible service areas and the number of households in the potential eligible service areas.
- Eligible area(s) are census block(s) in which the minimum broadband service speed of 25/3 is not available at one or more households or businesses within the block.
- Areas may not be in counties, cities, and towns with populations of more than 50,000; located in the urbanized area contiguous or adjacent to a city or town of more than 50,000; or in an area where a broadband provider has been selected to receive, or is otherwise receiving, federal or state funding subject to enforceable build-out commitments (e., ReConnect, RDOF, A-CAM).
- Broadband projects must be provisioned via fixed broadband and with technologies that are forward looking. Fiber is not required but is encouraged. NTIA will give priority to applications planning to provide 100Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, but minimum speeds must be at least 25Mbps/3Mbps.