On May 19, 2021, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity regarding the availability of grants under the $288 million Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) to support the build out of broadband network infrastructure in rural areas.
Eligibility for these grants is restricted to “covered partnerships” – defined as a partnership between a State (or one or more political subdivisions of a State) and a provider of fixed broadband service. NTIA anticipates that BIP awards will range from $5 million to $30 million. A proposed project must serve one or more census blocks in which broadband service is not available; the proposed network must be capable of delivering broadband service, defined as at least 25 Mbps upload and 3 Mbps download, to every household in the grant area.
While not required, NTIA will give preference to BIP application projects that are designed to: (i) provide service to the greatest number of households in the service area; (ii) provide broadband service in an area other than a county, city, or town of more than 50,000 inhabitants or an urban area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town of more than 50,000 inhabitants; (iii) be the most cost-effective; and (iv) provide service with a download speed of not less than 100 Mbps and an upload speed of not less than 20 Mbps. NTIA also will favorably consider projects that propose to offer “future proof” broadband (e.g., fiber) and a non-federal cost match of at least 10 percent of the total project costs.
Applications are due by August 17, 2021. The NTIA expects to select winning applications by November 15, 2021 and to commence funding under the program no sooner than November 29, 2021. NTIA will hold webinars on June 9 and 10, 2021 to provide further information on the grant program.