October 8, 2021 by Gregory Bathrick

Why Will Municipalities Win the Big Broadband Race in the End?


This year we’ve seen a tidal wave of new broadband funding and sweeping state legislation. That makes 2021 an important transition year for municipalities that want to ensure their residents, businesses, and anchor institutions have access to high performance broadband service.

Starting in January this year, state and federal agencies have issued multiple favorable policy actions to make municipal builds possible. Here’s a summary of policy actions by month.

  • At the end of last December, the Biden signed federal stimulus legislation that among other things provided for a new Public-Private Partnership grant program with $288 million in funding. This month, NTIA received 260 applications asking for more than $2.5 billion in funds, indicating the intense interest in the program. NTIA will announce awards later this year.
  • In February, Arkansas enacted a new law permitting, under certain conditions, local governments in the state to own and operate broadband networks and provide services.
  • In April, Biden announced his infrastructure proposal that supported provision of broadband service by entities owned or affiliated with local governments, cooperatives, and nonprofit organizations.
  • In May, Washington enacted laws enabling public utility districts, counties, towns, and port districts to offer retail broadband service to subscribers.
  • In June, Ohio’s legislature refused to enact legislation shutting down municipal broadband providers and barring local governments from providing service in the future.
  • In July, in enacting a major broadband law, California established a $750 million Loan Loss Reserve program that enables local governments, school districts, and nonprofits to finance broadband services in unserved and underserved communities.
  • In August, the U.S. Senate passed legislation containing tens of billions of dollars of funding for States to award grants to deploy broadband service in unserved and underserved areas and specifically if funding must be available to all entities, including local governments. The House is scheduled to consider the legislation later in September.

What’s behind all this policy activity facilitating high performance broadband builds by municipalities? Demand from consumers, businesses, and communities. They all understand that they need access to robust and reliable broadband service if they are to thrive. And this point has been driven home by the need to engage in remote work, learning, and other activities during the COVID pandemic. Put simply, governments at all levels understand they need to act now to meet this demand.

Calix is here to help you stay on track with government funding. Stay informed by regularly checking the Calix funding webpage. If you are applying for funding, watch the replay of our recent webinar, “Stake Your Claim: NTIA Broadband Funding Applications Due this Summer.”