Through its Announcement of Proposed Service Areas, issued October 4, 2021, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a list of entities that applied for funding through the $288 million Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP). Detailed information about these funding requests is available in the Excel spreadsheet that accompanies the announcement, which identifies the applicants seeking grant funding under the program by state and census block.
Broadband providers should review the NTIA's list and determine whether there are any applications seeking funding for service areas already receiving 25/3 Mbps broadband. Comments challenging funding requests on that list are due October 19, 2021.
The BIP was created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It funds "partnerships" between service providers and states or political subdivisions of a state. The program is designed to provide funding to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas.
The program targets census blocks where broadband service supporting speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream is not available. Those awarded funding will be required to deploy service at speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.
NTIA began accepting applications in May 2021. The October 4, 2021, proposed funding announcement identifies 212 entities in more than 40 states that have applied for funding to support broadband deployment in more than 180,000 census blocks.
In an effort to prevent unnecessary over-builds of already-served territories, the Announcement invites broadband providers that already serve any of the census blocks to submit information about their offerings (see Proposed Service Area Response Submission Guide). NTIA seeks information from existing service providers to evaluate whether the targeted areas are unserved, including the number of households and businesses that have access to broadband in that portion of the provider's service territory that overlaps with the applicant's proposed service area by census block and the number of locations lacking access.
Service providers should also detail the number of subscribers that they currently have for each of the broadband services they offer in each listed census block. Additionally, each provider must submit a list of its points of presence in or near the target census blocks.
NTIA plans to make decisions about BIP grants based on several criteria, weighted as follows:
- Level of Impact in the Proposed Service Area (20 points)
- Affordability of Services Offered (10 points)
- Technical Approach and Related Network Capacity and Performance (20 points)
- Applicant's Organizational Capability (20 points)
- Reasonableness of the Budget (10 points)
- Sustainability of the Project (15 points)
- Leverage of Non-Federal Resources (5 points)
DWT has experience in helping service providers submit oppositions to earlier subsidy programs and would be happy to assist service providers in preparing responses to these applications.