CSAC Bulletin Article

Broadband Funding Opportunity and Updates

April 6, 2023

Broadband Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the opening of the funding window for the Community Connect grant program, which is offering a total of $79 million throughout Fiscal Year 2023 to fund the construction of broadband networks that will provide service on a community-oriented basis in rural communities. The program will fund grant applications ranging from $100,000 – $5 million to help construct community-based networks. The program is prioritizing projects that offer a minimum speed of 100 Mbps download / 20 Mbps for areas not currently set to receive federal dollars through existing programs and remain unserved. Applications are due on June 20, 2023, and the USDA will be hosting a webinar on April 11, 2023, from 1:00pm – 2:30pm EST to discuss the program.

California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Annual Workshop and Updates

On April 10, 2023, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold its annual public workshop to facilitate collaboration among regional consortia, stakeholders, local governments, existing facility-based broadband providers, and consumers regarding cost-effective strategies to reach the broadband access goals. Find out more here.

CASF promotes broadband adoption and infrastructure deployment in unserved areas with a goal of providing broadband access to no less than 98 percent of California households. The deadline for applications to the CASF Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account for 2023 has been extended to May 1, 2023. View the new Broadband Availability Map and find out how to apply here.

Public Comment Opportunities

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD)

CPUC is seeking comments on its Order Instituting Rulemaking for the BEAD Program, which will expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. Comments can be submitted here by April 10, 2023.

Digital Equity Act

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has opened their request for comments for the Digital Equity Act, which is the $2.75 billion program authorized and appropriated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that includes a $1.25 billion competitive grant funding opportunity that is county eligible. Comments are due on May 1, 2023, and the National Association of Counties (NACo) is seeking county input on the various questions included in the Request For Comments (RFC) document. Please send any written recommendations directly to Seamus Dowdall, NACo Associate Legislative Director for Telecommunications & Technology, via email by April 20, 2023.

Second Quarter Middle-Mile Advisory Committee Meeting on April 21, 2023

For updates on the progress the State of California is making on the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative, please join at the next Middle-Mile Advisory Council meeting on April 21, 2023 at 10:00 – 11:30 am. View meeting details here.

Federal Funding Account Public Map

A new Federal Funding Account (FFA) Public Map went live on March 30, 2023, and it incorporates stakeholder feedback by removing ‘priority area’ designations, improving data to better reflect unserved locations, and adding socio-economic indicators. The FFA provides $2 billion in grants for last mile broadband infrastructure projects to connect unserved and underserved Californians. Find out more about the map and what’s coming next with the FFA here.

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