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Community Networks 18 March 2021

New Guide to Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities in the U.S.

By Katie JordanFormer Director, Public Policy and Technology
Mark BuellFormer Regional Vice President - North America
New resource will help communities find the right funding for their networks

At the 2020 Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS), participants asked the Internet Society to create a “centralized database that captures funding opportunities, eligibility, and information on how to apply.” There is currently no coordinated federal database where applicants can find all available funding sources. This is particularly challenging for those without Internet access – the intended benefactors of funding – as they are unable to surf the web to research all the different departments, commissions, and agencies that offer grants and loans related to Internet access.

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Guide to Federal Broadband Opportunities in the U.S. By creating this consolidated resource, especially as large amounts of funding become available as a part of COVID-19 relief and Tribes begin utilizing their Educational Broadband Service spectrum, the Internet Society hopes to assist our community to access these vital funds.

Over the past three months, we have worked with our partners to create a comprehensive database of federal funding opportunities in the United States. These opportunities vary dramatically in size and include a variety of deployment and end-user scenarios. For example, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program provides subsidies for both Internet service and infrastructure to eligible schools and libraries. Conversely, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Broadband Program provides loans to corporations, companies, cooperatives, Indian tribes, and local governments for the cost of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in rural communities. Other funds, like the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, provide grants to private or public entities for equipment for broadband, but not broadband service itself.

To make this abundance of information more easily accessible, our new guide includes information regarding the nature of awards, eligibility guidelines, application requirements, and information about past awardees where applicable. It is currently available as a PDF (which requires lower levels of bandwidth to access) and will soon be published as an interactive webpage where communities can search and filter grants or loans that best meet their needs.

Guide to Federal Broadband Opportunities in the U.S. allows any community interested in building or expanding their broadband infrastructure or other digital resources to better understand what kind of finances are available to them, and to know which communities have used similar funding in the past. We hope this resource, particularly when coupled with the Tribal Priority Window permits for 2.5Ghz spectrum, will enable tribal communities across the United States to better control their digital futures.

Explore Guide to Federal Broadband Opportunities in the U.S. to find funding opportunities for your network – and be sure to share it with your partners and contacts who may be interested in learning more about bringing the Internet to their communities!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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