According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly seven million Texans lack high-speed broadband access. Rural areas are particularly hard hit, exacerbating existing disparities in education, employment, and healthcare. This digital divide presents significant barriers for residents and the state alike, limiting opportunities for economic growth.
Thankfully, both federal and Texas lawmakers are making it a priority to bring affordable broadband to underserved and unserved communities across the state. With approval from the U.S. Treasury, the Texas Comptroller’s Office has allocated $363.8 million in federal Capital Projects Funds (CPF) for last-mile broadband infrastructure projects. The Comptroller’s Broadband Development Office (BDO) will distribute these funds via a series of competitive grant applications.
The first round of funds—totaling $120 million—is now up for grabs as part of the Bringing Online Opportunities to Texas (BOOT) program. The application window begins April 3 and will remain open for 30 days. Here are a few things you can do to maximize your chances for securing funding.
Ensure you’re eligible. There are a few boxes to tick before you can even consider applying for funding. To identify gaps, the BDO has asked broadband service providers (BSPs) interested in serving communities throughout Texas to submit coverage areas with existing internet access and service speeds. Nearly 71 BSPs missed the first deadline to submit—but don’t worry, if you fall into this category, it’s not too late. The BDO wants to engage with all remaining BSPs so that they’re reflected in the coverage map, which is refreshed twice each year.
Propose a larger coverage area. The BDO has identified approximately 152,000 locations requiring service. It’s much more compelling to approve funds for a BSP that will cover thousands of those locations, if only because it gets them closer to their goal, faster. As a result, larger players are edging out local BSPs with a genuine and vested interest in their communities. To remain competitive, consider including as many locations as possible in your application.
Collaborate with the BDO. It’s natural to assume that the BDO will know everything there is to know about broadband in Texas. But that’s simply not the case. With an office in Austin, it’s unlikely that the BDO team will understand the unique challenges of the areas you want to serve. For example, to meet the speed threshold of 100/100 Mbps symmetrical, you’re likely going to deploy fiber. That means you might have to go through rock to bury your fiber, which can add cost and complexity. It’s up to you to educate the BDO about these nuances to increase your chances for funding selection.
Texas is a hotbed for innovation. Eligible Calix customers such as YK Communications are seizing this once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity to bring the best of fiber broadband internet to homes and business across their Texas communities.
And BOOT is just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming years, the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program has earmarked $42.45 billion for last-mile broadband to be distributed at the state level.
The time to act is now. Will you apply?
We’re here to help. If you’re a Texas BSP, schedule a funding consult today.