Broadband Grant Program

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program intends to expand broadband service in Minnesota.

Overview

On May 20, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law* the new Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. This $20 million grant program will be used to fund the build out of infrastructure to promote the expansion of broadband service to areas of the state that are unserved or underserved.

The Office of Broadband Development at DEED has set up the grant program and application process. Notification of significant updates will be distributed by email; sign up at our Contact Us webpage. 

*The actual language of the law:  2014 Minnesota Session Law, Chapter 312 -- HF 3172, Article 2 (funding) and Article 3 (grant program language).

Eligibility

These are the legal requirements of the grant program.

  • Who is Eligible to Receive Funds?

    Eligible applicants include incorporated businesses and partnerships, political subdivisions, Indian tribes, Minnesota nonprofits organized under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 317A, cooperative associations organized under Chapter 308A or 308B, and limited liability corporations organized under Chapter 322B for the purpose of expanding broadband access.

  • Funding Priorities
    • Priority will be given to applications for projects that are constructed in areas that are unserved (defined as not having access to a wireline service at the FCC threshold of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload).
    • Priority may be given to projects covering underserved locations (those areas that do not have access to a wireline broadband service at Minnesota’s speed goals of at least 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload); offer new or substantially upgraded service to community anchor institutions like schools, libraries, hospitals, and public safety facilities; facilitate the use of telemedicine and electronic health records; serve economically distressed areas of the state; provide technical support and train users in the community served by the project; include a component to actively promote broadband adoption; provide strong evidence of community support; and leverage greater amounts of funding from other public and private sources.
  • Technical Requirements

    The infrastructure deployed must be able to support broadband service scalable to 100 Mbps download and upload.

  • Matching Requirements

    Applicants must document at least a 50% match, with additional points awarded for matching funds above 50%.

  • Grant Award Cap

    The grant for a single project cannot exceed $5 million.

  • Additional Requirements

    In addition to the type of information needed to demonstrate the requirements above, by law the application must contain information on the location of the project, the type and quantity of infrastructure that would be purchased, the total cost of the project and the sources of funding that will supplement any grant award.

Application Process

Application materials and grant program procedures were developed, and the Request for Application (RFA)—requesting applications for grant funding to deploy broadband infrastructure and expand access of broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of Minnesota—was made available. The Office of Broadband Development is now processing challenges to the RFA.

Information on the challenge process and a list of the applications received can be downloaded here (the challenge deadline was 11/21/2014).

Note: Prior to the final application process as contained in the RFA, the Office of Broadband Development held informational meetings throughout the state. Subsequent questions are documented under the "More Information" tab. This feedback helped the office prepare the final application process.  

More Information

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Request for Application (RFA) was posted on DEED's Contract Opportunities webpage, as was the notice for challenges. Both notices have expired.

Questions received during the RFA-release were answered by program staff:

In Summer 2014, we held several informational meetings to discuss the proposed application process and obtain feedback, working from the Border-to-Border Infrastructure Grant Program Overview slides, at Montevideo, Baxter, Eveleth, Wyoming, Crookston, Owatonna, and Perham. Some frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) resulted from those meetings:

Reminder of some available resources: First, if you are working to identify broadband availability for your project, any inquiries you have regarding the data shown on the broadband map can be submitted to Connect Minnesota for clarification—just fill out the form at that website. County maps (make sure you enter the name of the county you are interested in reviewing) have also been posted showing unserved and underserved areas as defined by the grant program requirements and as reflected by the current data.

Finally, we encourage interested parties to subscribe to the Office of Broadband Development's email list which will be used to distribute information on the grant process as it develops.