Tens of billions of dollars of Federal and state funds and low-interest loans are available to assist broadband service providers to build out broadband networks in rural and underserved areas, to provide services to schools, libraries, and low-income households, and to support telemedicine.
Federal programs: The FCC, the National Telecommunications Information Agency (NTIA), and the Department of Agriculture provide significant opportunities for broadband providers:
- Administered by the NTIA, the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program will provide funding for broadband providers for the buildout of networks serving communities that are currently unserved or underserved. State program offices will allocate billions of subgrant funding to broadband providers through competitive application processes.
- The FCC's subsidy programs include:
- CAF-II (Connect America Fund) and the RDOF (Rural Broadband Opportunity Fund), which allocate billions of dollars to service providers through reverse auctions.
- 5G Fund for Rural America will provide up to $9 billion to build 5G mobile broadband networks in rural areas. The FCC will hold two reverse auctions to allocate the funding; to date, no auction has been scheduled.
- The schools and libraries (E-Rate) and telemedicine programs provide subsidies through RFP and applications processes.
- The ECF (Emergency Connectivity Fund) program provides subsidies for schools and libraries to pay up to 100% of the costs of broadband services and equipment.
- The ACP (Affordable Connectivity Program) provides discounts for low-income households to pay for broadband services and connected devices.
- The NTIA administers three broadband programs:
- The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program provides grants to expand access to and adoption of fixed broadband service, distance learning, telehealth, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.
- The Broadband Infrastructure Program provides grants to partnerships between state or local governments and fixed wireless broadband providers for broadband networks in rural and unserved areas.
- The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program funds pilot programs for historically Black or Tribal colleges and universities to purchase broadband service or IT-related expenses.
- The Department of Agriculture offers grants and low-interest loans through competitive application processes.
State programs: Many states offer additional broadband subsidies and low-interest loan programs. These programs – including the level of subsidies and the loan terms and conditions – vary from state-to-state.
- Examples of state grant programs include the California Last Mile Federal Funding Account ($2 billion); the Georgia Capital Projects Grant Program ($240 million); and the Michigan Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) Grant Program ($238M).
We add value for our clients seeking to pursue these opportunities by:
- Identifying the right broadband funding and low-interest loan programs for their strategic business objectives;
- Helping them understand applicable regulatory and legal requirements;
- Guiding them through the specific federal and/or state processes to apply for subsidies or loans, including reverse auctions and competitive applications.
To learn more, see our FAQs on broadband subsidy programs.