WESTBOROUGH, MASS. – The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI), on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has launched the Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Grant Program, a new competitive grant program funded by $145 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund that aims to deliver high-speed internet infrastructure to areas that currently lack broadband-level service. The Gap Networks program aims to expand connectivity to unserved and underserved locations throughout the state to help bridge the digital divide, with a particular focus on communities with substantial low-income households and disadvantaged populations.
Full details on program requirements, including details on the Technical Assistance webinar MBI is hosting on November 14th at 10 a.m., are available on the MassTech procurement page: https://masstech.org/broadband-infrastructure-gap-networks-grant-program.
The Gap Networks program will consist of two solicitation grant rounds:
- Round #1:
- Application deadline: December 11, 2023
- Expected awards: January/February 2024
- Round #2:
- Application deadline: April 17, 2024
- Expected awards: May/June 2024
As outlined in the grant solicitation (PDF), organizations that are eligible to submit applications for awards include:
- Private entities: corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, limited partnerships, etc.;
- Local governmental entities: municipalities or municipal light plants that offer broadband service, Native American Indian Tribes, and nonprofit organizations;
- Co-operatives, electric co-operatives, and utilities;
- Public-private partnerships: long-term agreements between local government entities and private entities for the delivery and funding of broadband services; and
- Entities that develop and/or operate broadband networks: organizations that can demonstrate the experience, capacity and financial resources and stability to satisfy the grant obligations.
The program is administered by the MassTech Collaborative and the state’s Executive Office of Economic Development to fund projects that will deploy broadband infrastructure in areas that currently lack access to high-speed internet service, which is defined under the federal program guidelines as service that offers download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps.
The MBI is still accepting applications from cities and towns to receive support through the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program, which has supported 62 municipalities to date with free technical assistance to identify barriers to internet access. The agency is also funding projects through the Digital Equity Partnerships Program, as well as efforts to address the digital divide across the state through six connectivity programs, including enhanced WiFi Access, modernization of public space internet, connectivity initiatives for those facing economic hardship, digital literacy efforts, device distribution and refurbishment, and education, outreach and adoption programming.
About the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech
A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) is working to extend high-speed internet access and availability across the state. To achieve this, the MBI uses state and federal funding to launch infrastructure expansion programs that target areas of the state which lack high-speed internet access, as well as digital equity programs that tackle barriers to internet adoption and increase availability, addressing critical issues around affordability, enhanced public Wi-Fi, the need for internet-enabled devices and digital literacy training.
Learn more at https://broadband.masstech.org.