About Us

The Office of Broadband works with local and state government agencies, community organizations and private businesses to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state, specifically in small and rural communities. Through these partnerships, the Office encourages investment in grant funding opportunities for the broadband program that focus on the expansion of broadband.

Directives

Under section 364.0135, Florida Statutes, the Office of Broadband is responsible for:

  • Developing, marketing and promoting broadband internet services in the state;
  • Creating a strategic plan to increase the use of broadband internet services in the state;
  • Reviewing and verifying public input regarding transmission speeds and availability of broadband internet services throughout the state;
  • Building and facilitating local technology planning teams, especially with community members from the areas of education, healthcare, business, tourism, agriculture, economic development and local government; and
  • Participating in the Federal Communications Commission proceedings that are related to the geographic availability and deployment of broadband internet in Florida. 

In state fiscal year 2022-2023, up to $5 million annually through the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, administered by the Department of Transportation, may be used for projects that assist in the development of broadband infrastructure within or adjacent to a multi-use corridor. Priority will be given to Rural Areas of Opportunity as designated under section 288.0656, Florida Statutes.

State and Federal Funding Opportunities

Entities interested in expanding broadband in their communities may apply for the following funding opportunities. The below opportunities are updated regularly.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Rural Infrastructure Fund

  • Program Website: Rural Infrastructure Fund
  • Program Overview: Facilitates the planning, preparing and financing of traditional economic development or nature-based tourism infrastructure projects that encourages job creation and capital investment in rural communities.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Eligible projects and uses of funds may include improving access to and the availability of broadband Internet service. Eligible uses of funds shall include improvements to broadband Internet service and access in unserved or underserved rural communities. Improvements to broadband Internet service and access must be conducted through a partnership(s) with one or more dealers registered with the Department of Revenue as a provider of communications services in Florida. Partnership(s) must be established through a competitive selection process that is publicly noticed.
  • Eligible Entities: Eligible Applicants are units of local government within an area designated as a Rural Area of Opportunity or a rural county or community as defined by Section 288.0656, Florida Statutes.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: Rural Infrastructure Fund base funding ($3.6 million) application cycle is open-ended through June 30, 2021, or until all available funds are awarded. Florida Panhandle Specific Appropriation 2280 ($5 million) application cycle is open through November 30, 2020.

Florida Department of Education

General Resources - Internet

  • Program Website: General Resources - Internet
  • Program Overview: Internet resources for families and teachers to support students returning to school.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Internet access.
  • Eligible Entities: Teachers and families.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: No awards. Program is for limited-income households to access internet for student learning.

Enterprise Florida, Inc.

Rural Expansion Toolkit - Site Preparedness Program

  • Program Website: Rural Expansion Toolkit - Site Preparedness Program
  • Program Overview: Enterprise Florida, Inc., will assist Florida’s rural communities with the development/enhancement of sites to make them build-ready and competitive for site selection projects.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure.
  • Eligible Entities: Local or regional economic development or community partners located within a rural community.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: Applications will be accepted until December 15, 2020.

United States Department of Education

Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, Title 1, Part A

  • Program Website: Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, Title 1, Part A
  • Program Overview: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title I, Part A, provides financial assistance for Local Education Agencies and schools with high numbers/percentages of children from low-income families to help meet state academic standards.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Minor remodeling, consistent with 34 CFR Part 77, to improve the academic achievement of students served by Title I. 7.
  • Eligible Entities: State/local governments and rural recipients.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: $16 billion for Fiscal Year 2020.

Promise Neighborhoods

  • Program Website: Promise Neighborhoods
  • Program Overview: The program provides funding to support eligible entities for broadband infrastructure, adoption and other broadband purposes.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure (e.g., construction), broadband adoption, digital skills training, mobile hotspots and hotspot data plans.
  • Eligible Entities: Libraries, K-12 schools, higher education institutions and tribal entities.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle:$16 billion for Fiscal Year 2020. 

Rural and Low-Income School Program and the Small, Rural School Achievement Program

  • Program Website: Rural and Low-Income School Program and the Small, Rural School Achievement Program
  • Program Overview: The purpose of these two grant programs are to provide poor, rural districts with financial assistance to address the unique needs of rural school districts that frequently lack the personnel and resources needed to compete effectively for Federal competitive grants and receive formula grant allocations in amounts too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure (e.g., construction), digital skills training, mobile hotspots and mobile hotspot data plans, minor remodeling, consistent with 34 CFR Part 77, to improve the academic achievement of students served by the program.
  • Eligible Entities: K-12 schools and rural recipients who are under the local education agencies for the rural and low-income school program.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle:$93 million for Fiscal Year 2020.

Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program, Title IV, Part A

  • Program Website: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program, Title IV, Part A
  • Program Overview: To help eligible Institutions of Higher Education to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low- income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure (e.g., construction), digital skills training, mobile hotspots and mobile hotspot data plans, minor remodeling, consistent with 34 CFR Part 77, to improve the academic achievement of students served by the program.
  • Eligible Entities: K-12 schools and state/local governments.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: $1.8 million for Fiscal Year 2020.

Strengthening Institutions, Title III, Part A

  • Program Website: Strengthening Institutions, Title III, Part A
  • Program Overview: To promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure (e.g., construction), broadband adoption, digital skills training, mobile hotspots and hotspot data plans.
  • Eligible Entities: K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
  • Funding Amount: $1.2 billion for FY2020.

Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program, Title III, Part B

  • Program Website: Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program, Title III, Part B
  • Program Overview: This program provides financial assistance to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish or strengthen their physical plants, financial management, academic resources and endowment-building capacity.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Broadband infrastructure (e.g., construction), broadband adoption, digital skills training, mobile hotspots and hotspot data plans.
  • Eligible Entities: Higher education institutions.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: Application period is from July 1 through July 31 of each year. $324 million is available for FY2020.

United States Department of Agriculture

The Community Connect Grant Program

  • Program Website: The Community Connect Grant Program
    • Program Overview: The Community Connect Grant Program has grants for financial assistance to eligible applicants that will provide specific speed service to all premises in rural, economically-challenged communities where broadband service does not exist.
    • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Public Computer Access
    • Eligible Entities: Incorporated organizations, Federally-recognized Tribes, State and local units of government, and any other legal entity, including cooperatives, private corporations or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
    • Funding Amount/Cycle: In 2013, $160 million was allocated to the Community Connect Grant Program. Grant award amounts range from $100,000 to $3 million. Eligible applicants may apply from September 24 - December 23, 2020.

    Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science Program

    • Program Website: The Community Connect Grant Program
    • Program Overview: The AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program supports grants in six AFRI priority areas to advance knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences important to agriculture. The six priority areas are: Plant Health and Production and Plant Products; Animal Health and Production and Animal Products; Food Safety, Nutrition and Health; Bioenergy, Natural Resources and Environment; Agriculture Systems and Technology; and Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities. Research-only, extension-only, and integrated research, education and/or extension projects are solicited in this Request for Applications (RFA).
    • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Examine the private and public returns to expanding broadband infrastructure into rural areas, the barriers to broadband deployment and adoption and the mechanisms that might ameliorate those factors. Examine the potential relationship between access to broadband and health outcomes, educational attainment, entrepreneurship, and job growth. Examine how broadband availability can directly or indirectly impact public-health crises including COVID-19, opioid abuse and suicide.
    • Eligible Entities: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, For-profit Organizations Other Than Small Businesses, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Individuals, Native American Tribal Orgs, not Federally recognized Tribal Governments, Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed, Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed, Other or Additional Information (See below), Private Institutions of Higher Ed, Small Business, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
    • Funding Amount/Cycle: A total of $290 million during Fiscal Year 2020 - 2021.  Application period is July 17, 2020 - July 29, 2021.

United States Department of Commerce

Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs including CARES Act Funding

  • Program Website: Economic Development Administration - Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs including CARES Act Funding
  • Program Overview: Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs provide economically distressed communities and regions with comprehensive and flexible resources to address a wide variety of economic needs. Projects funded by these programs will support work in Opportunity Zones and will create and retain jobs, increase private investment, advance innovation, enhance the manufacturing capacities of regions, provide workforce development opportunities, and grow ecosystems that attract foreign direct investment.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Planning (e.g., feasibility), broadband Infrastructure (e.g., construction), broadband adoption, digital skills training, smart cities and district organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District
  • Eligible Entities: County governments, private institutions of higher education, native American tribal governments (federally recognized), nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education, public and state controlled institutions of higher education, state governments, nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education, special district governments, and city/township governments.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: Due to the extraordinary level of interest in EDA's CARES Act Recovery Assistance there has been an unusually high volume of applications received. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their applicable EDA Regional Office representatives to discuss their needs and the availability of funds. Prospective applicants can find current contact information for EDA Regional Office staff at www.eda.gov/contact/. Awards range from $100,000 to $30 million. There are no submission deadlines for this opportunity.

Federal Communications Commission

Connected Care Pilot Program

  • Program Website: Connected Care Pilot Program
  • Program Overview: Pilot projects for qualifying purchases necessary to provide connected care services through the Pilot Program, with a particular emphasis on providing connected care services to low-income and veteran patients.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: The Pilot Program will provide selected pilot projects 85% funding for eligible services to provide connected care services as part of the Pilot Program, which fall under the following categories: (1) patient broadband Internet access services; (2) health care provider broadband data connections; (3) connected care information services; and (4) certain network equipment (i.e., network equipment necessary to make a supported broadband service functional).
  • Eligible Entities: Non-profit or public health care providers that fall within the categories in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Telecommunications Act.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: The Pilot Program will make available up to $100 million over a three-year period. The application period is open now through Monday, December 7, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.

National Science Foundation

Spectrum Innovation Initiative

  • Program Website: Spectrum Innovation Initiative
  • Program Overview: The Community Connect Grant Program has grants for financial assistance to eligible applicants that will provide specific speed service to all premises in rural, economically-challenged communities where broadband service does not exist.
  • Program Purpose Specific to Broadband: Public Computer Access
  • Eligible Entities: Incorporated organizations, Federally-recognized Tribes, State and local units of government, and any other legal entity, including cooperatives, private corporations or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
  • Funding Amount/Cycle: $30 million is available for Fiscal Year 2020. Awards range from $300,000 to $25 million : Application period is from March 14, 2020 - April 1, 2021.

For More Information

For additional information regarding the Office of Broadband, please contact Katie Smith, Director, Office of Community Partnerships, at 850-717-8445 or by email at Katie.Smith@deo.myflorida.com.

Other Broadband Resources

  • BroadbandUSA's Speed Demonstration Tool - BroadbandUSA's Speed Demonstration Tool is designed to help you make smart, strategic decisions regarding your data needs. The speed demonstration tool lists typical internet uses and the data required for those uses. 
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