The latest Stimulus Act offers up more opportunity for new broadband projects…be informed, be prepared. Time to Act is Now.
March 11th saw the 117th Congress pass the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also known by its working name “Covid Stimulus Plan.” While the details of the legislation are still being written, it’s expected to at least offer up additional $ 7 Billion + in funds to help address the ongoing digital divide for underserved communities.
Early outlook says that many of the details should come into focus by May 31st. This means eligible organizations like school districts and municipalities can begin to formally apply for these funds on June 1st and will likely have a very limited application window – 60 days. While there is language in the act that indicates funds have to be distributed within 60 days of it being signed into law (meaning starting May 10), the NTIA, who is administering the broadband programs, has stated that this timeline is a goal rather than a mandatory requirement.
Approved organizations will have up to two years to spend the allocated monies but will likely have an option to apply for an extension. Again, these are preliminary understandings of what will be included. We will have to wait until the legislations is finalized to understand all the details.
The American Rescue Act comes on the heels of the December 27, 2020 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, which had allocated $5 Billion USD for Broadband Infrastructure to help to address:
· $3.2B Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund – Service and Equipment Subsidies,
· $1B for Tribal Organizations – Infrastructure, Telehealth, Remote Learning, Digital Inclusion,
· $250M for TeleHealth Programs – Non-profit and Teaching Organizations,
· $285M for Minority Communities – Minority Education Institutions.
While the details for the CAA act continue to be finalized, the anticipated timeline now (update from Feb newsletter) is that applications can start to be submitted in May, with approvals coming within 90 days of submission. Successful applicants will then have up to 12 months to spend their funding, with the option to apply for an extension if all funds can’t be spent in the initial 12 months.
Combined, the American Rescue Plan Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act Offer $12+B for funding network infrastructure and connectivity services. This Offers Great Opportunity for Those that Act.
In short, with all this available funding, we’ve started to see cities and school districts take notice and act. The light bulb is going off, these local governments are looking for ways to secure funding and have a clear need to connect their communities, but they also clearly need expertise and skills to execute - and this presents an opportunity.
With some of the first, higher profile projects like the city of Tucson, other municipalities are watching closely and crafting their own plans now. So, we need to be talking with partners and prospects now to be ready for when the next round of funding gets released. And because of our other lines of business, Geoverse has in house expertise who have experiencing navigating this type of federal legislation to secure funds for various underserved communities. We can help.