AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has announced his agency is now accepting grant applications for broadband infrastructure projects by Friday, May 5 as part of the Bringing Online Opportunities to Texas (BOOT) Program.
The TXSmartBuy website will provide instructions on submitting bid responses.
Hegar’s office operates the Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO), which was established by House Bill 5 in the 87th Legislative Session.
The BDO awards grants, low-interest loans and other financial incentives to internet service providers who expand access to broadband service in underserved areas. The BDO also provides a variety of tools and resources supporting the expansion of broadband access across Texas.
The BDO’s board of advisors includes two Rio Grande Valley leaders – Alonzo Cantu and Sergio Contreras. Cantu, president and CEO of Cantu Construction and Development, was appointed to the BDO by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan. Contreras, CEO of Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez, LLP., was appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Texas has been allocated $363.8 million through the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to carry out critical infrastructure projects related to expanding access to high-speed internet. The BDO will distribute these funds through a multi-round competitive grant process, with this first round of funds totaling $120 million.
“I am encouraging potential applicants to review all supporting materials on the BOOT Program webpage before beginning an application,” Hegar said. “Expanding broadband access will require collaboration and partnerships between local governments and private entities, across counties and among residents. This infrastructure is the interstate highway system of this century, and ensuring Texans have access to reliable, high-speed internet is critical for Texas’ continued economic growth and prosperity.”
To participate in the program and submit a proposed project for funding, an eligible applicant must be one of the following:
- Political subdivision of this state.
- Commercial broadband service provider.
- Non-commercial broadband service provider.
- A partnership of any of the above.
Applications must be submitted using the BDO Application System by Friday, May 5.
Texas Broadband Development Map
In January, the BDO published the Texas Broadband Development Map to identify eligible areas of the state for funding projects. Applications must include only unserved and underserved broadband serviceable locations in these eligible areas.
On March 6, Hegar announced the BDO’s intent to solicit an initial round of grant applications for $120 million in funding for broadband infrastructure projects as part of the BOOT Program. This announcement — the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) — provided details on the program, eligibility and application process.
The BDO posted responses to the questions received from interested parties during the public NOFA question and answer period on the TXSmartBuy website. These responses will help clarify the NOFA and application process.
Eligible broadband infrastructure projects must be designed to deliver, upon completion, broadband service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Awarded applicants must also provide a universally available low-cost option for locations being serviced by the project and participate in a federal broadband subsidy program.
The BDO was established by the state legislature in 2021 and housed within the Texas Comptroller’s office to help close the digital divide in Texas. The BOOT Program is the state’s first competitive broadband grant program focused on last-mile connectivity: connecting end-users to high-speed internet. The program supports broadband infrastructure projects in eligible areas that bring reliable, affordable internet service to communities in need.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompany the above news story shows the board of advisors for the Texas Broadband Development Office.
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