3 Smart Funding Strategies to Achieve Broadband Connectivity

A growing number of funding opportunities are becoming available to municipal organizations interested in improving access to broadband connectivity


What Happened?

A growing number of funding opportunities are becoming available to municipal organizations interested in improving access to broadband connectivity. With this funding comes tools and resources to support long-term economic growth and stability.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recently awarded nearly $20 million in state grants to fund 17 projects that will increase broadband connectivity in underserved rural communities. The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is offering $19.4 million in grants which provide up to 50 percent of the project development costs to local organizations and agencies. The program aims to provide high-speed internet connectivity to:
  • 6,100 homes
  • 83 community institutions
  • And hundreds of businesses

The overall goal of the program is to ensure all residents and businesses have access to high-speed broadband by the end of 2015. Minnesota would also like to be ranked in:

  • The top 5 states in the nation for broadband speed universally accessible to residents and businesses
  • The top 5 states for broadband access
  • The top 15 when compared to countries globally for broadband penetration

By connecting homes and organizations with broadband connectivity, Minnesota hopes to support a strong economy that trains a skilled workforce and attracts thriving businesses.

Avenal

The Avenal School District in California recently received a state grant that will provide the schools with faster internet connection. The grant is worth between $200,000 and $500,000 and is administered through the California Department of Education’s Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grants . Under the California K-12 High Speed Network program, the goal of the one-time grants is to help school districts improve their network connectivity, which will allow state computerized tests to run more efficiently.

To qualify for the grant, the Avenal School District and all other recipients had to demonstrate:

  • Difficulty administering new computerized state tests
  • Providers willing to offer services to the district
  • Commitment to maintain the new connections once the grants expire

Currently, the Avenal School District has a 100 megabyte connection. The grant will allow the district to upgrade to an 800 megabyte connection which will significantly simplify the integration of technology into coursework.

New York

The state of New York recently announced a $1 billion broadband program that combines public and private resources to ensure all residents have access to high-speed internet connectivity by 2019. Within 2015 Sate of Opportunity Agenda, the $500 million New NY Broadband Program will leverage capital funds from bank settlements to incentivize the private sector to offer high-speed broadband access in underserved communities across the state.

To qualify for the state grants, internet providers and local communities must:

  • Provide matching private sector investment Broadband providers must provide at least a 1:1 financial match. This will help stimulate competition in the broadband market resulting in high-quality service at affordable rates.
  • Deliver unprecedented broadband speeds Broadband providers must offer internet speeds of at least 100 megabytes per second. Priority funding will go to the highest speeds at the lowest costs.
  • Consider local input to guide development Regional Economic Development Councils will submit a comprehensive plan to the state that identifies underserved communities, aggregates demand across all sectors, details cost-effective strategies and leverages state-owned assets as much as possible.

According to the Governor’s office, the broadband industry accounts for 20 percent of new jobs across all businesses, as well as 30 percent of new jobs in small businesses.

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