World Global ConnectionsImagine boarding a cross-country flight and finding yourself next to someone who will be talking on his or her cell phone for the next three hours. Would it make a difference if you knew ahead of time that the flight allowed voice calls?  This scenario is exactly what the Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing.

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iStock_000006131068MediumThe state of Rhode Island plans to be the first state to test and launch next generation 5G networks, seeking to make 5G available to all of its communities.  This past week, Governor Gina Raimondo announced a joint effort by the Public Utilities Commission, Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and the Office of Innovation to pilot a large-scale 5G network deployment with real world testbeds to attract new high-tech businesses while lowering the cost of deployment and operation.  Citing size, population density, and regulatory flexibility, the State sees Rhode Island as “an ideal place to rollout 5G wireless” and seeks informational proposals from qualified firms and vendors in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on implementing 5G and next generation broadband infrastructure statewide.  While the state will not award funding to any respondents, the state does intend to use the information acquired in its collaboration with municipalities to develop the blueprints for three network imperatives: 5G wireless, Civic Internet of Things and an extensive fiber network.
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Cable TVThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing rules requiring the installation of broadband infrastructure during construction of HUD-financed multi-family rentals, or apartments, recognizing the cost-savings when incorporated into the initial planning stages.  Building on its ConnectHome initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities nationwide, HUD is seeking comments on a proposed rule that will require the installation of broadband infrastructure at the time of new construction or substantial rehabilitation of multi-family rental housing that is funded or supported by HUD.  The release of this proposed rule also follows more than a year of work since President Obama released the presidential memorandum, Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training, highlighting that “access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury, but it is a necessity for American families, businesses and consumers.”

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The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rufunding_opportunity_v1r1ral Utilities Service (RUS) announced today the availability of $11.7 million under its Community Connect Grant Program (Community Connect), which provides grants for deploying broadband service to unserved, low-income and rural areas.  Grant awards range from $100,000 to $3 million for FY 2016.

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funding_opportunity_v1r1On April 8, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published a Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) in the Federal Register for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (the Broadband Program) for Fiscal year 2016.  Loans are available ranging from $100,000 to $10 million.  Applications will be accepted from April 8, 2016 through July 7, 2016.

The Broadband Program provides loans to corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Cooperatives, State or local governments and Indian tribes or tribal organizations for the construction, improvement and acquisition of facilities and equipment.  The loan will not fund operating expenses, construction costs incurred prior to the issuance of a complete application status, the purchase of Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) and installation of installed writing (unless certain conditions are met) and leased facilities, among others.


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funding_opportunity_v1r1On March 18, 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a solicitation for up to $10 million for US Ignite: Networking Research and Application Prototypes Leading to Smart and Connected Communities, which funds the development of gigabit applications that can leverage existing, advanced network infrastructure.  The current solicitation requests applications within two Focus Areas: 1) development of application ideas and prototypes addressing areas of national priority exploring new uses for high-speed networks and 2) fundamental research advances in networking technology and protocols that furthers gigabit networking infrastructure.

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funding_opportunity_v1r1It’s a busy time at FirstNet, gearing up for the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).  With yesterday’s release of a Federal Funding Opportunity for up to $40 million for the Band 14 Incumbent Spectrum Relocation Grant Program (Grant Program), FirstNet is making headway in fulfilling its mandate under the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012.  The Grant Program will assist public safety entities currently operating in 758 MHz-769 MHz and 788 MHz – 799 MHz, also known as Band 14, to relocate their communications operations to other frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), providing FirstNet with the unencumbered spectrum necessary to deploy the NPSBN.

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funding_opportunity_v1r1The Administration continues to drive efforts to spur broadband deployment across the country and to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable broadband service.  Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced ConnectALL, an effort aimed at connecting 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020.

This announcement builds on the successes of ConnectED, the White

This monfunding_opportunity_v1r1th marks the one year anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that created the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), a federal inter-agency council, tasked with using all available and appropriate authorities to identify and address regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and adoption.  My former BroadbandUSA colleagues at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information (NTIA) are quite busy implementing the recommendations from the Council’s Report (Report), released last year.

In just a few weeks, BroadbandUSA will host a half-day workshop on the Community Connectivity Initiative, designed to enable local leaders to better assess their community connectivity and strengthen efforts to align broadband technology with local policies and priorities.  The March 22nd workshop, to be held in Seattle, will engage stakeholders in developing meaningful measures for community broadband access, adoption, policy and use. Specifically, participants will have the opportunity to share insights and suggestions on the design of the program.  Several weeks later, on March 24 and April 12, BroadbandUSA will host two follow-up webinars.


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funding_opportunity_v1r1FirstNet released its final Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a Contractor to build and operate the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), as authorized by the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012 (Act), and fund FirstNet operations.   The RFP is the result of input to more than 13 Requests for Information, two public Industry Days, and a year of dialogue with the public safety community.  The RFP provides for a single award, Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with fixed price payments.  In exchange, the winning contractor gains access to 20 MHz of contiguous 700 MHz spectrum and the ability to lease excess network capacity to secondary commercial users, receiving up to $6.5 billion in funding from FirstNet.  FirstNet envisions a 25-year public-private partnership, suggesting that solutions may include “various partnerships and business arrangements that monetize new public safety market offerings via devices, applications and other value-added benefits and services.”  FirstNet plans to select a contractor by the end of the year.

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