Broadband Funding Toolkit

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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: How Local Governments Can Fund Broadband Expansion

Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Toolkit for Broadband

Guidance, Eligibility, and Other Tips

Eligible broadband activities are described within the U.S. Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Final Rule 87 Fed. Reg. 4417-4422 (January 27, 2022) (codified at 31 C.F.R., part 35) [pdf page 80-85].

U.S. Treasury FAQs for ARPA (as of January 2022) see Questions 6.2, 6.5-6.12, 6.16 at pdf pages 28-33.

Highlights from Treasury’s Final Rule:

  • Both the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds have the same set of requirements outlined for all infrastructure activities. Counties and communities may utilize local allocations for broadband.

  • Recipients are encouraged to prioritize projects that are designed to serve locations without access to reliable wireline 100/20 Mbps broadband service, but are broadly able to invest in projects designed to provide service to locations with an identified need for additional broadband investment. Recipients have broad flexibility to define need in their community.

  • Recipients are required to design projects to, upon completion, reliably meet or exceed symmetrical 100 Mbps download and upload speeds. In cases where it is not practicable, eligible projects may be designed to reliably meet or exceed 100/20 Mbps and be scalable to a minimum of symmetrical 100 Mbps download and upload speeds. Treasury encourages recipients to prioritize investments in fiber-optic infrastructure wherever feasible and to focus on projects that will achieve last-mile connections. Further, Treasury encourages recipients to prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits, and co-operatives.

  • Recipients must require the service provider for a broadband project that provides service to households to participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), or a commensurate program. Treasury encourages broadband services to also include at least one low-cost option offered without data usage caps at speeds sufficient for a household with multiple users to simultaneously telework and engage in remote learning. Recipients are also encouraged to consult with the community on affordability needs.

  • SLFRF may be used for modernization of cybersecurity for existing and new broadband infrastructure, regardless of their speed delivery standards. This includes modernization of hardware and software.

  • All ARPA fiscal recovery funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and all projects must be completed and all funds expended by December 31, 2026.

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Using ARPA for Broadband: Eligible Activities

Organization(s) Program Type ARPA-eligible activities
  • Broadband Providers
  • State & Local Govt’s
  • Non-profits

ACCESS

Increasing Infrastructure

Prioritizing projects that serve locations without access to reliable wireline 100/20 Mbps broadband service:

  • Provide grant reimbursement programs to expand broadband infrastructure with public/private partnerships
  • Implement broadband infrastructure
  • State & Local Govt’s
  • Non-profits
  • Regional Planning Commissions

ADOPTION

Helping citizens connect

  • Establish an affordability program
  • Support digital literacy – teaching citizens technology & online safety
  • Cybersecurity
  • Support device lending programs for those without and who are eligible
  • State & Local Govt’s
  • Non-profits
  • Regional Planning Commissions

ASSISTANCE

Technical support

  • Technical planning
  • Consultant services
  • GIS and surveying
  • Administration necessary to implement, manage, and report on ARPA
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Using ARPA for Broadband: Other Tips

  • Reporting requirements are significant. The U.S. Treasury has posted Compliance and Reporting Guidance online and also a particularly helpful Compliance and Reporting Guidance pdf.

  • Make sure to track updated rules, FAQ’s, and other guidance; seek legal or fiscal help in interpreting and implementing them as appropriate.

  • Follow normal procurement and solicitation processes of your local government.

  • Missouri State Treasurer has created a Transparency Portal that provides information on ARPA-related allocations, FAQs, and data on Missouri’s COVID-related expenditures.

  • Reach out to the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development for additional broadband assistance when needed.

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Broadband Technical Assistance

DED’s Office of Broadband Development

  • Assists in identification and outreach to providers
  • Advises on local broadband strategy development
  • Educates on upcoming funding opportunities
  • Provides guidance on state and federal mapping and data tools available
  • Supports with resource materials for local planning efforts
  • https://ded.mo.gov/content/broadband-development

Missouri’s Regional Planning Commissions

  • Assist in community facilitation
  • Provide community and economic development planning
  • Support grant writing and guidance
  • Many Commissions have prioritized broadband expansion
  • http://macog.org/

University of Missouri Engagement & Extension

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Broadband Mapping and Speed-Testing Initiatives

Mapping Initiatives 

  • Missouri GIS platform for broadband coverage and funded

  • Indicators of Broadband Need interactive public map published by the US Department of Commerce (NTIA)

  • Additional data opportunities from Missouri’s access to a U.S. Department of Commerce broadband mapping system (NBAM). Contact DED’s Office of Broadband Development for more information.

Speed-Testing Initiatives 

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Broadband Funding Opportunities

In addition to ARPA state and local allocations, several existing and new funding opportunities will be available in the coming months for broadband deployment.

Comprehensive, yet user-friendly broadband funding resource pages:

Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB):

  • Launched in May 2021 and provides up to $50/month discount for broadband services.

  • Visit https://ded2.mo.gov/GETCONNECTED for more program info and participating providers.

DED along with partner organizations will host webinars covering new funding opportunities as they are announced.

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State of Missouri’s Planned Use of ARPA Funds for Broadband

On August 19, 2021, Governor Parson announced Missouri’s $400 million ARPA broadband expansion. $400 million of the $2.7 billion of the Missouri ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund is being proposed to be dedicated towards broadband expansion, targeting three areas:

  • ACCESS – Increasing infrastructure,

  • ADOPTION – Helping citizens connect, and

  • ASSISTANCE – Technical support for state and regions.

Governor Parson presented his plan to the General Assembly in the 2022 legislative session.

Most State ARPA programs will include a local ARPA match requirement. As communities plan how they will use their local ARPA allocation, they should consider retaining funds to offer as a match for State ARPA grant programs to increase their chances of being awarded funding from state grant programs in development.

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More Information

Get Connected!

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