Wavelengths: Beyond RDOF—A Look at Government-Funded Broadband Programs

The Biden administration’s ten-year plan to deliver high-speed internet access across rural America is already off to a head start with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund(RDOF).Wavelengths’Daniel J. Litwin and Diana Goovaerts, Senior Editor of Fierce Wireless/Fierce Telecom, spoke about other government-funded programs that are available to make broadband a reality for all.

With phase one of RDOF completed in 2020, phase two budget allocations are still to come. According to Goovaerts, companies looking to fund broadband projects are turning to other government spending acts that will allocate federal budget to the states. Then, the states will distribute the funds via grant programs to companies with winning bids.

To help make sense of all the various funding opportunities and how to access them, Goovaerts penned a recent article for FierceTelecom titled, Finding the money: A US broadband funding  guide.

One significant opportunity for those seeking funding for broadband projects comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in November 2021. Of the $65 billion allocated in the bill for broadband, $42.45 billion will go through the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment(BEAD)Program.

“It’s focused on grants that are going to connect underserved areas,” Goovaerts said. Guidelines for accessing these funds are underway. While each of the 50 states will receive an initial and equal allotment of funding from BEAD, coverage maps the FCC is still working on will determine future allocations.

The bottom line: there are funds available, but companies need to understand the guidelines, process to apply for funds and stipulations involved when accepting the money. The picture will become more apparent once the National Telecommunications and Information Administration(NTIA) comes out with its funding guidelines.

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