NTIA Initiates Broadband Infrastructure Program

On May 19, 2021, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) establishing the rules and procedures for the Broadband Infrastructure Program (“the Program”), a $300 Million program authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (“the Act”).  The Program provides grant funding to covered partnerships to provide qualifying fixed broadband service to eligible service areas.  Specifically, the following eligibility criteria applies:

  • Only covered partnerships, defined as “a partnership between: (A) a State, or one or more political subdivisions of a State; and (B) a provider of fixed broadband service,” may apply for a grant.  No formal agreement must be demonstrated at the time of application, but the parties should be able to demonstrate an intent to cooperate in implementing the covered broadband project.  The government entity must serve as the lead applicant in the application.
  • The grant must be used for a covered broadband project, defined as “competitively and technologically neutral projects for the deployment of fixed broadband service that provides qualifying broadband service in an eligible service area.”
  • Only qualifying fixed broadband is eligible to receive funding, defined as “(A) a download speed of not less than 25 megabits per second; (B) an upload speed of not less than 3 megabits per second; and (C) a latency sufficient to support real time, interactive applications.”
  • The project must provide qualifying broadband to eligible service areas, defined as “a census block in which broadband service is not available at one or more households or businesses in the census block, as determined by the Assistant Secretary on the basis of: (A) the maps created under section 802(c)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 642(c)(1)); or (B) if the maps described in subparagraph (A) are not available, the most recent information available to the Assistant Secretary, including information provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).”

Applications for covered projects will be prioritized as follows:

  1. Projects designed to provided broadband service to the greatest number of households in an eligible service area
  2. Projects designed to provide service in rural areas
  3. Projects that are most cost-effective, prioritizing those that are the most rural
  4. Projects designed to provide 100/20 service speeds
  5. All other projects

Complete applications must be received by NTIA by 11:59 Eastern Daylight Time on August 17, 2021.  Application forms and specific information on how to apply is available on the NOFO’s Grants.gov webpage (the link provided above) under the “Package” tab.   NTIA anticipates it will complete its review, selection of applicants, and award processing by November 15, 2021, and that successful applicants will see awards start dates as early as November 29, 2021.  NTIA anticipates making awards within the following range: $5,000,000 to $30,000,000.  Any funds awarded under the Program must be used within one year of receipt, however, extensions may be granted if the partnership can demonstrate that there is a plan, construction is underway, or other extenuating circumstances have prevented utilizing all of the funding.

Additional information is available on NTIA’s Broadband USA Website.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

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