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The state of South Dakota has set a high bar for applicants seeking rural broadband funding in the ConnectSD Broadband Development Program.

For example, the state sees fiber broadband as the “gold standard” in broadband technology.

“The state has made the policy decision to approve and fund future-proof fiber projects. . . Other technologies such as DSL copper, fixed wireless and satellite, while they have their place in the ecosystem, are considered temporary ‘stop gap’ or ‘the only option’ technologies,” said the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which is administering the program, in application materials for the program.

The state also “encourages” providers to contribute at least 50% in matching funds except when there are extenuating circumstances. In addition, providers that contribute more than 50% of project costs will get one extra point for every extra percentage point above 50%, up to 25 extra points in the scoring system that will be used to determine awardees.

The technologies used must be capable of delivering at least 250 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream. Applicants get five extra points for deploying technology capable of providing 250/100 Mbps speeds, 10 extra points for 250/250 Mbps, 15 extra points for 500/500 Mbps and 20 extra points for symmetrical gigabit speeds.

Eligible areas are those lacking 100/20 Mbps service.

Other aspects of the scoring system:

  • Applicants will get one point for each citizen (individual or business) that demonstrates interest or pre-subscribes for broadband service, up to 10 points
  • Five points will be awarded for any critical community institution connected in the proposed service area
  • Five points will be awarded for projects in which any location is on a South Dakota reservation
  • Projects must be completed by December 31, 2026. An additional 15 points will be assigned to projects completed by the end of 2024 and 10 additional points will be assigned to projects completed by the end of 2025.

Applications for this funding round will be accepted until 4:00 p.m. CT on December 1, 2023.

Additional information about South Dakota broadband, including links to state resources, Telecompetitor coverage and more, can be found on the Broadband Nation page for the state.

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