Funding

As the LinkIDAHO initiative moves forward, it is important to identify and leverage all available funding sources for both demand and supply-side programs. For example, demand-side initiatives designed to advance health care, education, agricultural and other economic development opportunities may require non-traditional funding to support the design, launch and sustainability of each initiative.

Likewise, on the supply side, infrastructure development and service delivery efforts in rural areas may require non-commercial sources of funding such as government and foundation grants.

The following is a list of grant opportunities we have identified at this time for broadband and related projects:

  • No current funding opportunities to announce.
  • "Broadband Funding Opportunities in Idaho," a guide developed by the LinkIDAHO team and updated in August 2014, was created to help navigate a few of the key federal and identified state funding programs available for broadband and broadband-related programs.

Download the updated guide to Broadband Funding Opportunities in Idaho.

Download the Appendix of Sample Grant Forms.

Previous Funding Opportunitites

On May 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service (RUS) announced that it was accepting applications for grants to enhance telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas.

The 2014 application deadline for all three programs was July 7, 2014, but hopefully this information will help communities in looking ahead to 2015.

Click on the program titles to learn more about each program and access the applications:

  1. Community Connect Grant Program This program will provide up to $13 million to fund broadband in unserved areas.
  2. Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program Up to $19.3 million will be made available for the DLT program, which will provide access to rural education, training and health care resources.
  3. Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program This program will provide up to $2 million in grants to acquire, lease or install equipment or software that will complete the transition to digital broadcast signals.

The Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA), Guide and Toolkit are now available for USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. Those considering submitting an application should get started as soon as possible. Understanding the guide and toolkit early, as well as getting organizational buy in, is critical to a well written and solid application.

On February 6, 2013, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced the availability of $121.5 million in grants to assist states as they prepare for a nationwide public safety broadband network. The grants will be available to all 56 states and territories, and will support planning, consultation, education and outreach activities, as well as help fund efforts to collect information on infrastructure and equipment that could be used by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in building a wireless public safety broadband network.

The State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP), makes grants available to states, in collaboration with regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions, as FirstNet takes steps to help make a nationwide, interoperable network a reality. The SLIGP is designed as a formula-based, matching grant program. The Federal share of the grant program represents 80 percent of the total project costs, while recipients will contribute at least 20 percent.

Applications were due to NTIA from the states and territories by March 19, 2013. NTIA anticipated awarding the grants by July 15, 2013.

Background

On August 21, 2012, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a Federal Register to announce requirements for the  State and Local Implementation Grant Program.

The development of this Program is in response to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that President Obama signed into law on February 22, 2012. The Act meets a long-standing priority of the Obama Administration to create a single, nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network that will, for the first time, allow police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety officials to communicate with each other across agencies and jurisdictions.

The Act establishes the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within NTIA and authorizes it to take all actions necessary to ensure the design, construction, and operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network (PSBN), based on a single, national network architecture.

NTIA plans to distribute funding in two phases:

  • Phase One: Focus on initial planning and consultation activities, including strategy and timeline development, meetings, governance planning, and outreach and education efforts
  • Phase Two: Address states’ needs in preparing for additional consultation with FirstNet and planning to undertake data collection activities

Up to $135M will be available for the Program. Fifty-six (56) states and territories are eligible for grants. Each state and territory will need to submit an individual application, and states and territories may decide to collaborate or coordinate with other states and regions in preparing application submissions.

View a presentation given by NTIA to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) to learn more about eligible uses of the funds and other information.

For the first time ever, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a competition to discover the best ways to increase broadband adoption rates among low-income Americans.

The competition is funded by the newly created “Broadband Adoption Lifeline Pilot Program.” It builds on the Connect to Compete initiative, a public-private partnership aimed at helping to close the broadband adoption gap that was launched by the Commission last year.

Applicants had to be telecommunications carriers eligible to participate in Lifeline. They were encouraged to partner with existing broadband adoption programs as well as schools, libraries, state and local governments, non-profits and others. The winners will reflect a diversity of geographic areas (rural, urban), technologies (fixed, mobile), and service plans. At least one project will explore providing support on Tribal lands.

The application deadline was July 2, 2012, but you can read more about the competition in the FCC Public Notice.

As a reminder, the FCC released its Universal Service Fund (USF) & Intercarrier Compensation Reform Order and Further Notice of Proposal Rulemaking on November 18, 2011 ("The Reform Order"). Since The Reform Order's release, there has been some confusion as to whether USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is accepting and processing loan applications.

Read the Feb. 3, 2012 letter from USDA RUS reminding telecommunications borrowers and potential loan applicants that USDA RUS Telecom and Broadband is accepting and processing loan applications.

USDA has announced a change in their Rural Development Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program to include funding for improvements to 911 and emergency communications services in rural America. These changes will help rural communities obtain next generation 911 services necessary to maintain the security and safety of rural residents and businesses. Read more about USDA's Telecom Infrastructure Loans and how to apply.

View a presentation from RUS on the "Overview of Telecommunications and Broadband Loan and Grant Programs."

USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces the availability of $325,663,157 in loan funds for the Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program for fiscal year (FY) 2011. A Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) was previously published in the Federal Register on March 14, 2011, at 76 FR 13797, prior to the passage of a final appropriations bill identifying a definite funding amount. Applications can be submitted throughout the year and will be reviewed and processed on a first-come, first-served basis according to the time the application is received at the Washington DC Broadband Office. Read more about this funding opportunity.

USDA'S Rural Utilities Service provides programs to finance rural America's telecommunications infrastructure. The Broadband Loan Program provides loans to fund the costs of constructing, improving and acquiring facilities to provide broadband service to eligible rural communities. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program brings electronic educational resources to rural schools and improves health care delivery in rural America. The Community Connect Grant Program provides financial assistance to eligible applicants that will provide broadband in unserved areas to provide public safety services and foster economic growth.