2020 Broadband Infrastructure Grants & Loans
|California Advanced Services Fund|
|Rural Digital Opportunity Fund|
|Economic Development Administration|
|USDA ReConnect Program|
|2020 Broadband Infrastructure Grant Projects|
The primary purpose of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is to subsidise broadband infrastructure upgrades in unserved areas. In 2018, the California legislature defined “unserved” as lacking access to broadband service with minimum speeds of 6 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. The California Public Utilities Commission administers CASF programs, and has an online map showing preliminary eligibility determinations by census block.
Any area that’s eligible for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund subsidies (see below) is automatically eligible for CASF funds, per 2020’s assembly bill 82. The intent is to make Californian Internet service providers more competitive in the RDOF auction, in order to maximise the federal broadband subsidies in the state. The rules for obtaining CASF funds for RDOF projects haven’t been published yet by the CPUC.
Key infrastructure grant documents are below. A collection of documents from the CPUC’s reboot of the CASF program is here. An extensive, but not completely comprehensive, archive of CASF-related documents going back to 2011 is here.
6 Aug 2020
20 Mar 2020
11 Apr 2019
13 Dec 2018
25 Apr 2019
The federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program will award broadband subsidies totalling $20 billion over ten years via a reverse auction process. The first auction, for $16 billion in subsidies, is scheduled for 29 October 2020. The initial, “short form” application window closes on 15 July 2020. Approved applicants will be allowed to bid for subsidies in eligible census block groups.
The Federal Communications Commission determines auction winners via complicated formulae that take into account proposed broadband service speeds and quality as well as the amount of subsidy requested.
In general, RDOF-eligible census block groups contain census blocks where broadband service is not available at a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The CPUC has a California-specific eligibility map here.
Key RDOF documents are below. All collected documents are here.
11 Jun 2020
15 Jun 2020
30 Jan 2020
10 Jun 2020
1 Jun 2020
28 May 2020
The federal Economic Development Administration offers grants for public works projects, including broadband infrastructure. Eligible public agencies and certain non-profit organisations can apply for construction grants of up to $30 million. Funding is also available for feasibility studies, planning, engineering and other technical assistance. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
7 May 2020
Congress created the ReConnect broadband grant program in 2018, and appropriated $1.2 billion for it. $200 million was made available for grants, $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and $200 million for loans, during each of two application windows. The federal covid-19 stimulus bill – the CARES act – added another $100 million to the total.
As of mid-April, following the close of the second window, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that it had received applications totalling $1.6 billion. If past experience holds true, those proposals will be heavily weighted toward grant requests. A third round is unlikely, unless congress appropriates more money for the program.
ReConnect subsidies were available to upgrade broadband infrastructure to a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds, in rural areas that lack service at minimum speeds of 10 Mbps upload and 1 Mbps download. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
The USDA’s distance learning and telemedicine grant program is also run by RUS, and offers up to $200,000 in funding for broadband infrastructure necessary for qualifying projects.
19 Mar 2020
19 Mar 2020
12 Dec 2019
14 Apr 2020