NTIA Publishes Grant Opportunities for Internet Infrastructure Funding

Regulation | May 13, 2022 | by Juliana Bilowich

State collaboration with federally-subsidized housing organizations and other Community Anchor Institutions emphasized in federal funding to improve internet access.

On May 13, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published grant opportunities for the distribution of billions in federal broadband investment. The publication makes nearly $50 billion in internet infrastructure funds available to states and territories.

In three separate Notices Of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs), NTIA outlined rules and timelines for programs to improve middle mile and last mile internet infrastructure, as well as diversity and equity in bridging digital connectivity gaps across the country. The funding opportunities are divided into three programs:

The funding was originally approved by Congress in November 2021 through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and went through public comment prior to publication as Notices of Funding Availability.

Next, the funding will be directed to states, territories, and local governments for distributions within their jurisdictions. Eligible states and territories must submit letters of intent to NTIA by July 18, 2022.

The Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program

The BEAD Program provides new federal funding for NTIA to grant to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (States), as well as American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands (Territories) for broadband planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption activities. Funding is distributed primarily based on the relative number of “unserved” locations (i.e., broadband-serviceable locations that lack access to Reliable Broadband Service in each state and territory. Each state is eligible to receive a minimum of $100,000,000 and each territory is eligible to receive a minimum of $25,000,000.

The BEAD Program NOFO specifically includes housing organizations as Community Anchor Institutions, and requires state-level collaboration with these institutions to develop their Five Year Action Plans for the funding.

Internet Infrastructure and Affordable Housing

Earlier this year, LeadingAge worked with our membership and with our Internet Connectivity Workgroup to provide feedback to NTIA on the rules for funding distribution, emphasizing equity access to the funds and an emphasis on bridging the digital divide in affordable housing. Stay tuned for more information from LeadingAge on the rollout of the funds.

To advocate for your state or territory to direct the funding towards affordable housing, reach out to your state broadband office here. For more information or for support in your advocacy, reach out to LeadingAge’s Director of Housing Operations and Policy, Juliana Bilowich (jbilowich@leadingage.org).