ARPA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program Launches Challenge Process

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Challenge Applications for the ARPA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program Challenge Process will be accepted now through November 13, 2022 11:59 pm Central Time. For more information, please visit DED’s ARPA Broadband webpage

A broadband internet service provider that provides existing service in or adjacent to a proposed service area may submit to OBD a written challenge to an application based on its proposed service area. Within three business days of receiving a challenge, OBD will notify the applicant of such challenge.

A challenge will succeed when OBD determines that, for the proposed project service area, the challenger:

  1. Currently provides broadband services meeting baseline speed of 100/20 Mbps; or
  2. Has begun construction to provide such services; or
  3. Has an enforceable commitment to provide broadband internet service at speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps and scalable to higher speeds to the proposed service area in a timeframe similar to that proposed for the applicant’s project.

To view the list of ARPA Broadband Grant Program Projects, click here.

Note: OBD has experienced technical issues with a few shapefiles of proposed projects. We are working to resolve these and will update the map as quickly as possible.

To view the Challenge Map, click here.

To access the Challenge Application, click here.

To subscribe for email updates, click here.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $502 Million for High-Speed Internet in Rural Communities

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Funding Will Provide High-Speed Internet Access to People and Businesses in Rural and Remote Areas across 20 States; Additional Funding Will Come From President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in Coming Months.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is awarding $502 million in loans and grants (PDF, 221 KB) to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in 20 states. The funding is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and providing reliable, affordable, high-speed internet for all. USDA is making the investments through the third funding round of the ReConnect Program. The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet in the coming months, including funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

“President Biden’s commitment to high-speed internet in rural communities is foundational to ensuring that the nation’s economy continues to expand from the bottom up and the middle out,” Vilsack said. “High-speed internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and get access to new markets. It will help rural residents get access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. USDA knows rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for all.”

USDA is making 32 awards in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and people in socially vulnerable communities.

As part of today’s announcement:

  • In Michigan, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is receiving a $25 million grant to connect 1,217 people and 26 businesses to high-speed internet in Chippewa and Mackinac counties. The Tribe will make high-speed internet affordable by requiring its service provider to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a discount of up to $30 per month – or $75 per month for households on Tribal lands – on household’s internet bills, as well as the FCC’s Lifeline Program. This project will serve Sault Ste. Marie Off-Reservation Trust Land, the Sault Ste. Marie Reservation as well as socially vulnerable communities in Chippewa and Mackinac counties.
  • Net Vision Communications LLC is receiving a $12.4 million loan to connect 4,587 people, 300 businesses, nine farms and 15 public schools to high-speed internet in Barton County, Missouri. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in the county.
  • Oklahoma’s Southern Plains Cable LLC is receiving an $8.1 million loan and an $8.1 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will connect 7,093 people, 230 businesses, six farms and 29 schools to high-speed internet in Caddo, Comanche, Cotton and Grady counties. Southern Plains will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache-Fort Sill Apache tribal statistical area as well as socially vulnerable communities in Cotton County.

USDA has announced $858 million in the third round of ReConnect funding so far and plans to make more investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks. Today’s announcement follows the Department’s July 28 announcement that it has invested $356 million through the ReConnect Program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states (PDF, 192 KB) gain access to high-speed internet.

Background: ReConnect Program

To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.

Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Read more…

Biden-Harris Administration Now Accepting Applications for $1 Billion Rural High-Speed Internet Program

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America nationwide. The Department is making more than $1 billion available, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program is a critical piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

“Ensuring that the people of rural America are connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country, and it remains a core priority for President Biden,” Vilsack said. “That’s why high-speed internet is an important part of USDA Rural Development’s work with rural communities. Reliable high-speed internet opens the world’s marketplace to rural business owners. It enables them to expand their businesses and give more jobs and opportunities to people in their own community.”

On Sept. 6, USDA began accepting applications for loans, with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700 million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million under the ReConnect Program. These funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Governmentwide, the law provides an historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

The application deadline is Nov. 2. For additional information, see page 47690 of the Aug. 4 Federal Register (PDF, 231 KB).

USDA has made several improvements to the ReConnect Program for the current round of applications. Collectively, these improvements increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet. They include:

  • Allowing applicants to serve areas where at least 50% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet.
  • Adding a funding category for projects where 90% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. For applications submitted under this category, no matching funds will be required.
  • Waiving the matching funds requirement for: (a) Alaska Native Corporations, (b) Tribal Governments, (c) projects proposing to provide service in colonias, (d) projects proposing to serve persistent poverty counties and (e) projects proposing to provide service in socially vulnerable communities.

Additionally, to ensure that rural households in need of internet service can afford it, all awardees under this funding round will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive internet at no cost and can sign up and check their eligibility at GetInternet.gov. The Department’s actions to expand high-speed internet access in rural areas are key components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to help America build back better in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first round of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $656 million to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural customers across 33 states and territories. In the second round of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $850 million to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural customers across 37 states and territories. To date, USDA has announced $356 million in critical investments through the third round of ReConnect funding, for a total of $1.8 billion invested through the ReConnect Program since the program’s inception. More investments will be announced in the coming weeks.

Background: ReConnect Program

To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service is not available at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA ReConnect Program—Round 4 Workshop

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September 15, 2022
8:00 AM—3:00 PM
Missouri Farm Bureau Center
701 South Country Club Dr
Jefferson City MO 65109


Missouri Farm Bureau will be hosting a
ReConnect Program funding workshop
for the Round 4 application process


EVENT WILL INCLUDE
Missouri DED Broadband Office: Funding Updates
USDA Rural Development: Application eligibilities, funding
overviews, and in-depth application process
Register Here

ARPA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to Open for Applications August 15

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The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is excited to announce that the ARPA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program will begin accepting applications on August 15, 2022. For more information, please visit the ARPA Broadband webpage and watch for future email announcements.

Governor Parson announced historic funding for broadband development last August. During the 2022 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly appropriated $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for a broadband infrastructure program and $15 million for a pole replacement fund to support the program. In total, these two programs will invest $265 million to bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved areas of Missouri.

Broadband Timeline

New Resources for Applicants

In preparation for the launch of the application cycle, the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) has also posted the following new or updated resources to assist applicants throughout the process.

Revised Program Guidelines

The ARPA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program Guidelines have been revised with a few clarifications.

Updates:

  • Added $100 million dollar cap per applicant
  • Added clarity to the contiguous nature standard  
  • Added grant administrative costs as an eligible expense
  • Updated the name of the grant portal 
  • Updated application open and close dates 
  • Updated Tax Clearance Certificate requirement 
  • Added flexibility to the Letter of Credit requirement

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

OBD developed a new frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to provide additional guidance to the common questions we have received.

ARPA Community Identifier Map

This newly created ARPA Community Identifier Map identifies areas of the state with higher than moderate, moderate, and low income areas as well as qualified census tracts.

Broadband Availability Map

The Broadband Availability Map has been updated to include RDOF and NTIA grant awards.

Budget Template

OBD created a budget template to assist applicants in preparing applications.

For any follow-up questions, feel free to contact OBD at 573-526-1028.

Learn More

All 50 States, U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia Join Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All Initiative

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that all states and territories have confirmed their participation in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative announced in May. The Administration engaged in a comprehensive outreach and technical assistance campaign to ensure no state or territory was left behind.

The $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program enables states and territories to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. A separate State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program supports developing digital skills training and workforce development plans. In total, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, funds $65 billion to ensure all Americans have access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.

“The Department of Commerce is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to the internet, which is vital for our economic future,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Beyond access, we also must enable meaningful internet use and provide people with tools to participate in education and training, access health care, and thrive in the digital economy. The Internet for All initiative will help states and territories accomplish both goals. I applaud America’s state and territory leaders who took these important first steps toward bringing equitable access to high-speed internet to the people they serve.”

Digital Equity applications were due July 12th and all Letters of Intent to participate in the BEAD program were submitted ahead of the July 18th deadline. Hundreds of Tribal Nations have also submitted Letters of Intent to participate in the State Digital Equity Planning Grant program. Tribal entities can also apply for subgrants through their state or territory’s digital equity program.

“Bringing high-speed, affordable Internet to all of America will require a whole-of-nation effort. Today America’s state and local leaders have spoken as one nation committed to bridging the digital divide,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “Connecting America means leaving no community behind, and we are heartened by the bipartisan commitment to ensuring that all Americans have reliable, affordable Internet service and the skills needed to thrive in our modern digital world.”

The State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program is the first step for states, territories, and Tribal Nations to develop their digital equity plans, with $1.44 billion funding available later to fund specific projects. NTIA will announce the allocation of the $60 million Equity Planning Grant Program funds by September 29, 2022.

Initial planning fund applications for the BEAD program are due August 15, 2022.

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed internet programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov.

Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program

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Final Guidelines Now Available

The Department of Economic Development (DED) has posted the final guidelines for its Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program. The program is funded via the State of Missouri’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This $265 million program will help communities and providers across the state invest in broadband infrastructure to bring access to unserved and underserved areas through competitive grants.

The Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program’s guidelines were posted in late May and DED accepted public comment from May 31 through June 15. The final guidelines are now available here.

Our next step in this process will be to begin taking applications on, or around, July 15, 2022. Complete information is also available on DED’s ARPA broadband webpage.

DED Releases Request for Information to Assess Needs for ARPA-funded Projects Statewide

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The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) introduced a Request for Information (RFI) that will assess the need for potential projects utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The RFI is a brief, online form that will assist DED in crafting grant guidelines, help determine funding allocations, and support Missouri’s efforts to efficiently deploy ARPA funding. DED encourages all interested entities to complete the RFI by Friday, March 18.

Full details are provided in the RFI form, including descriptions of prospective grant programs, such as Community Revitalization, Cell Towers, Local Tourism, Digital Literacy, Industrial Site Development, and Workforce Development programs. Form completion likely requires no more than 15 minutes, while a separate form should be submitted for each project type.

DED plans to allocate ARPA funds for several grant programs supporting a wide range of priority areas, including businesses, nonprofits, community development, broadband, and more. Citizen feedback is critical to ensuring programs have the highest impact possible for Missourians. Entities eligible to complete the RFI include businesses, nonprofits, local governments, cellular carriers, libraries, education institutions, and more. For more on DED initiatives involving ARPA funding, visit ded.mo.gov/arpa. About the Missouri Department of Economic Development The Missouri Department of Economic Development works to create an environment that encourages economic growth by supporting Missouri’s businesses and diverse industries, strengthening our communities, developing a talented and skilled workforce, and maintaining a high quality of life.

For more information about the department’s programs and initiatives, visit DED’s website.

Missouri receives $42.2 million federal grant through the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program

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The Department of Economic Development (DED) announced today that Missouri has been awarded a $42.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for broadband expansion. The funds received through the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program will be used for projects benefiting more than 13,000 households in 12 Missouri counties: Boone, Butler, Jasper, Lincoln, Livingston, Marion, McDonald, Monroe, Pulaski, Shelby, St. Charles and St. Louis. “Broadband is a critical part of our state’s infrastructure, and this unprecedented grant award from the NTIA, combined with our state planned investments of over $400 million, will be transformative in getting Missourians connected,” Governor Mike Parson said. “These funds enable our state to benefit a diverse range of industries as we continue working to invest in broadband statewide. Internet access is a necessity in a modern economy, and we’re grateful for the Department of Commerce’s assistance with this key priority.” DED submitted its application for funding last year through the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program, which supports broadband infrastructure deployment in unserved and rural areas. A three-stage review process determined Missouri would receive $42.2 million to supplement the state’s ongoing broadband expansion efforts.

Among states receiving grants, Missouri received the largest award, representing more than 15 percent of total funding available. “This funding awarded through the NTIA’s grant program is a tremendous opportunity for broadband expansion statewide,” said Director of Broadband Development BJ Tanksley. “A quality internet connection has never been more important, whether for work, health care, or education. I look forward to seeing these funds put to work alongside other initiatives aimed at ensuring every Missourian has access to high-speed internet.” “DED is immensely grateful for this assistance from our federal partners at the NTIA and Department of Commerce,” said Department of Economic Development Acting Director Maggie Kost. “This grant award will have a significant, positive impact for Missourians in need of high-speed internet. Expanding broadband access is a key economic priority, and these funds will go a long way in supporting our mission of helping all Missourians prosper.” Missouri’s NTIA grant award will be used in addition to significant pending investments being made through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support broadband access, adoption, and assistance statewide. For more information on the Office of Broadband Development, including the latest updates on expansion efforts and future funding opportunities, visit DED’s website. Across all project areas, more than 13,000 households, more than 300 businesses, and over 30 community organizations are expected to receive high-speed internet access as a result of the awarded funds. For project details, including locations and award amounts, click here. More information about the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program can be found on the BroadbandUSA website.

NDIA Announces $10 Million Grant from Google.org to Remove Digital Divide Roadblocks for Rural & Tribal Communities

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National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced a multi-year, $10M grant from Google.org to create a National Digital Navigator Corps. The Corps will span 18 rural and tribal communities across the United States and impact thousands of people through one-on-one technology training and community outreach to connect people to the internet, appropriate devices, and training.