2020 Broadband Grants & Loans

2020 Broadband Infrastructure Grants & Loans

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California Advanced Services Fund
Rural Digital Opportunity Fund
Economic Development Administration
USDA ReConnect Program
2020 Broadband Infrastructure Grant Projects

California Advanced Services Fund

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.

As of 1 July 2020, there were 54 infrastructure grant proposals totalling $533 million pending, versus approximately $145 million left for such grants in the fund.

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.

Rule changes for CASF infrastructure and public housing grants

.pdf

6 Aug 2020

Amended deadlines for 2020 CASF infrastructure grant applications

.pdf

20 Mar 2020

CPUC decision appendix with CASF infrastructure grant application information and selection criteria (revised 11 April 2019)

.pdf

11 Apr 2019

Final CPUC decision, implementing the California Advanced Services Fund infrastructure account revised rules

.pdf

13 Dec 2018

Final CPUC decision implementing the Line Extension Program pilot, 25 April 2019

.pdf

25 Apr 2019

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

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.

FCC notice with filing requirements and other procedures for RDOF auction

.pdf

docx

11 Jun 2020

FCC instructions, RDOF short form application (form 183), due 15 July 2020

.pdf

15 Jun 2020

FCC RDOF report and order

.pdf

docx

30 Jan 2020

FCC RDOF auction technical guide

.pdf

docx

10 Jun 2020

CPUC California-specific RDOF information sheet

.pdf

1 Jun 2020

CPUC resolution regarding Eligible Telecommunications Carrier designation process for RDOF bidders in California.

.pdf

28 May 2020

Economic Development Administration

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.

Notice of Funding Opportunity, Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs

.pdf

7 May 2020

USDA ReConnect Program

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.

RUS Rural E-Connectivity Program Application Guide for Fiscal Year 2020

.pdf

19 Mar 2020

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program Application Guide Fiscal Year 2020

.pdf

19 Mar 2020

RUS Funding Opportunity Announcement, ReConnect Program

.pdf

12 Dec 2019

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, Funding Opportunity Announcement

.pdf

14 Apr 2020