Blowing Fiber outside of TOK

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a list of entities that applied for funding through the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP). The list includes the census blocks to which each entity proposes to bring broadband, and NTIA invites broadband providers that already serve any of the census blocks to submit information about their offerings.

The Broadband Infrastructure Program is open to 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 and underserved rural areas. The NTIA said previously that it had received 230 applications requesting a total of $2.5 billion in the program, which has a budget of $288 million.

The identities of the 230 applicants can now be determined for anyone prepared to scan through the Excel spreadsheet that the NTIA provided, which if printed, would run to over 10,000 pages. I scanned part of it and found applications from counties, state departments of economic development and other government entities.

The Challenge Process

The NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program was created in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. 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 100/20 Mbps.

Service providers that already serve census blocks for which applicants are requesting funding have until October 19 to submit details. NTIA requires information such as 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 also must detail the number of subscribers that they currently have for each of the broadband services they offer in each 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)

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