Funding Opportunities in 2021

Congress and two successive administrations continue to see broadband access as a funding priority.  On December 27th, 2020 the Consolidated Appropriates Act, 2021 was signed into law.  It provides $1.4 trillion in omnibus spending and $900 billion in pandemic relief, for a total of $2.3 trillion. 

In addition to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program ($3.2 billion of consumer subsidies, similar to Lifeline, administered by USAC) and specific provisions for telehealth it includes three NTIA grant programs, each of which has a lot of breadth and complexity:

  • Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants ($1 billion)
  • Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program ($285 million)
  • Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants ($300 million)

The Tribal and Minority Communities Toolkit is designed to help telecommunications providers, tribal communities, academic institutions, and local governments develop businesses cases underlying grant applications.

The Introduction provides an overview of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants and the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.  It discusses the limits of eligibility under the statute (based on what known today) and highlights a number of data sets that most would consider important to any business case / grant application:

The Getting Started Guide provides a succinct reference enabling those who have purchased the Toolkit to be up and running quickly.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of starting early.  Those who wait until every detailed rule is disclosed by the NTIA may find that they have too little time to complete a successful application.

Those purchasing the Tribal and Minority Community Toolkit might be interested in other demographic, economic, and competitive data.  The CBRS Toolkit (originally designed for the CBRS auction) includes such data.  It is likely to be extremely helpful to anyone developing an infrastructure-oriented business case.  It is described in detail in an introductory document.  It is also described on the YouTube channel

Anyone purchasing the Tribal and Minority Community Toolkit can also purchase one or more state or national CBRS Toolkits at a 50% discount in a single transaction using the discount code "MoreData" at checkout.  Not sure what you need?  Download the free trial version.

The Tribal and Minority Community Toolkit is generously licensed to support a team of five.

Finally, it is important for interested readers to follow the past and future webinars of the NTIA.  All three grant programs were discuss in a webinar on March 17th.  Additional webinars are planned for late April and early May. 

As new details are released by the NTIA the functionality of the Toolkit is likely to be updated to reflect a more nuanced process.  Questions?  Need other data sets?  Send us an email or give us a call (415-346-5393).