The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) received more than 230 applications for the Broadband Infrastructure Program; the total of more than $2.5 billion in funding requests exceeds the funding for the available $288 million grant program.
NTIA is reviewing the applications and says because of the high volume “the award process will be highly competitive.”
“The intense demand for this program across the country demonstrates the widespread need for better broadband connectivity in unserved communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These investments are critical, but there is more to be done. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, recently passed by the Senate, will expand upon the groundwork being laid by this program to advance digital equity and get us one step closer to every American having access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet.”
Grants will be awarded to covered partnerships between a state, or political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service. The program’s 90-day application window closed on Tuesday, August 17.
Priority will be given to applications with proposed projects that:
- Provide broadband service to the greatest number of households in an eligible service area;
- Provide broadband service to rural areas;
- Are most cost-effective in providing broadband service; or
- Provide broadband service with a download speed of at least 100 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 20 Mbps.
“The state and local governments leading these proposed projects are strong partners with the federal government in closing the digital divide,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “We look forward to working closely with them in these efforts to expand internet access throughout the country.”
NTIA says it will thoroughly and objectively review applications using a three-stage process: initial administrative and eligibility review of complete application packets, merit review, and programmatic review. Reviewers will evaluate applications according to the criteria provided in Section V of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.