Major Broadband Funding Initiatives
USDA’s rural broadband programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture ’ s Rural Utilities Service ( RUS ) manages three ongoing broadband financing programs : the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, the Community Connect Grant Program, and the ReConnect Program. RUS besides manages the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program and the Distance Learning and Telemedicine ( DLT ) grants. The DLT grants are not specifically for broadband deployments, but rather store equipment and software for telemedicine and distance learn applications .
The RUS broadband funds are supplied by the farm circular, which is reauthorized every five years, and the annual appropriations bill. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill included $ 600 million in funds for rural broadband programs. The 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $ 30 million to Community Connect broadband grants, $ 47 million for DLT grants, an extra $ 5.83 million to subsidize the rural broadband lend to a level of $ 29.851 million, and $ 1.73 million in lend subsidies for a sum lend charge of $ 690 million for the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. It besides allocated $ 550 million for the ReConnect Program .
This program provides loans and lend guarantees to call companies and cooperatives, municipalities, tribes and nonprofit organization organizations to deploy telecommunications infrastructure for broadband servicing in rural communities. Eligibility is limited to rural communities in U.S. states or territories that are not contained within an incorporate city or town with a population larger than 20,000 residents .
The RUS is prohibited from prioritizing one technology over others in broadband lend applications. That means it must weigh newer, faster technologies such as DOCSIS and fiber evenly with older technologies like DSL. however, the RUS does have some latitude in setting a minimum data speed for broadband projects under the loan broadcast. That focal ratio is presently set at 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
These grants provide funding for broadband services through erstwhile grants to tribes, cooperatives, universities and private companies. The money is used to build broadband infrastructure that can far community development and improvement. The funds can be used to support construction, acquisition ( and spectrum skill ), vitamin a well as the rent of facilities needed to deploy broadband services to critical community facilities. The funds can besides be used to offer broadband serve to residents and businesses within the proposed service area. Awardees must provide “ basic broadband transmittance ” to all critical community facilities within the proposed area for two years complimentary of charge. rural areas are eligible alone if they lack any existing broadband travel rapidly of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upriver .
Established in 2018, the ReConnect program provides loans and grants to help cover the costs of constructing, improving or acquiring facilities for broadband servicing in eligible rural areas. A nominate serve area must have at least 90 percentage of households presently lacking sufficient broadband access to speeds of 10 Mbps. The course of study presently offers up to $ 200 million in available grants .
This program offers long-run guarantee loans to qualified telephone companies or cooperatives, nonprofits, limit dividend associations, reciprocal associations or public bodies for the purpose of providing telecommunications services in rural areas. eligible rural areas must not be contained within the boundaries of any incorporate or unincorporated city, village or borough with a population exceeding 5,000 residents. Applications are accepted year-round and are not competitive .
These offer loans and grants to rural community facilities such as schools, tribal offices, libraries and hospitals for specialize telecommunication systems that can support healthcare and educational applications in rural areas. The funds are only available to organizations that presently deliver or propose to deliver distance learning or telemedicine services .
FCC’s Universal Service Fund
The FCC ’ second “ universal service ” principle means that all Americans should have access to communications services .
consequently, the Universal Service Fund is designed to promote the handiness of timbre telecommunications services for all consumers, including those living in low-income, rural, insular, and high-cost areas, at “ equitable, fair and low-cost ” rates that are on par with what consumers in urban areas pay .
The store supports eligible telecommunication companies ( ETCs ) in deploying broadband services in underserved or unserved areas within the U.S .
The Universal Service Fund encompasses the Connect America Fund, the Universal Service Schools and Libraries program, the Rural Healthcare program, and the precisely announced rural Digital Opportunity Fund .
Loans and grants disbursed through the Universal Service Fund are paid for by contributions from wireline, radio and cable telecommunications companies based on their revenues, who then pass those costs onto their subscribers. That means the fund is basically paid by consumers through their telephone bills. The Universal Service Administrative Company administers the loans at the guidance of the FCC .
The Connect America Fund provides financing to ETCs to help cover the costs of deploying broadband service in areas that are deemed high-cost, rural or insular, where market conditions do not favor deployment with government intervention. CAF was initially proposed in 2010 as function of the FCC ’ s National Broadband Plan.
The first phase of CAF involved a total of $ 9 billion in subsidies doled out between 2012 and 2015 to ETCs who promised to build out broadband military service in underserved and unserved areas. Under Phase I of CAF, ETCs were required to offer services of at least 4 Mbps. In 2014, the FCC approved Phase II of CAF, which allocated an extra $ 1.8 billion in fund per year. The FCC besides upped the minimum speeds to 10 Mbps. But it wasn ’ triiodothyronine until 2018 that the FCC conducted a change by reversal auction to allocate funds to eligible areas in the U.S. During the auction, 103 bidders were awarded a total of $ 1.49 billion in funds over 10 years to provide broadband service to over 700,000 locations in 45 states .
besides known as E-Rate, this course of study offers discounts on telecommunication and broadband services to schools and libraries. E-Rate was foremost launched in 1996 and has helped the U.S. achieve a near-universal pace of broadband access in schools .
The FCC updated the E-Rate plan in 2014 to include Wi-Fi networks. eligible schools must not have endowments larger than $ 50 million, and eligible libraries must be nonprofit organization and have budgets that are completely separate from a school .
Discounts range from 20 percentage to90 percentage, and are available to eligible entities based on the level of poverty within the community it serves, with different rates for urban and rural areas. E-rate broadcast fund is based on demand, offering up to an annual Commission-established cap of $ 4.1 billion in 2019 .
This program provides fund to eligible health care providers ( HCPs ) for telecommunication and broadband services in defend of telemedicine applications. In the program, HCPs lend oneself for discounts, and the USAC coordinates with telecommunication providers and internet serve providers ( ISPs ) to deliver broadband serve. The USAC then reimburses the ISPs. The program is capped at $ 400 million per annum. It is presently made up of four programs : the Healthcare Connect Fund, the Telecommunications Program, the Internet Access Program, and the Rural Health Care Pilot Program .
The FCC recently announced the universe of a third gear broadband inaugural within the Universal Service Fund : the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund ( see our write-up hera ). The FCC hopes the fund will connect up to 4 million rural homes and businesses to gigabit-speed broadband services. It will repurpose funds to allocated $ 20.4 billion in subsidies over a 10-year period to telecommunication companies through an auction process .
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA ), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, manages two broadband grant programs, both of which were funded by the american Recovery and Reinvestment Act : the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program ( BTOP ) and the State Broadband Initiative ( SBI ). The NTIA oversees $ 4.3 billion worth of broadband infrastructure projects across the country. These projects support enhancing access to broadband among residents and promoting statewide broadband planning and data collection. however, the NTIA no long has fund available and is not accepting applications for these programs .
This broadcast was launched in 2010. NTIA invested $ 4 billion in 233 BTOP projects. As of fall 2018, only two BTOP projects remained active voice and have however to be completed. The remaining projects include the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority ( LA-RICS ) and the Executive Office of the State of Mississippi ( Mississippi ). The other 231 projects have been completed .
The SBI was launched in 2009 to work in coordination with the Recovery Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act. It envisioned a comprehensive, state-led attempt to integrate broadband and IT solutions into local economies, with particular focus on economic development, energy efficiency, department of education and healthcare. NTIA awarded $ 293 million to 56 entities, including one in each state, across five U.S. territories and in the District of Columbia. The SBI is besides creditworthy for the initiation and maintenance of the federal government ’ s National Broadband Map.
Other Federal Agency Programs
The U.S. Department of Commerce ’ s Economic Development Administration ’ south Facilities and Public Works program provides financing for the construction of critical infrastructure in high-cost areas. The funds typically go towards body of water and sewer infrastructure, though some communications projects have received fund through the program .
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ’ s Community Development Block Grant Programs offer funding that can be used to promote access to broadband, including through acquiring, installing or improving broadband networks. States and cities that allocate CDBG fund decide whether to fund broadband access projects .
The Appalachian Regional Commission Project grant program is a bite of an outlier. The appalachian Regional Commission ( ARC ) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of union, state, and local government. Its grant program aims to expand access to broadband in the Appalachia region by helping produce community broadband networks that can be used by all sectors within the community. Its projects have included build out roughage ocular rings, deploying broadband in industrial parks and clientele incubators, and piloting emerging broadband technologies. Most ARC plan grants originate at the express level and are supported through state and federal funds .