For areas that are eligible for RDOF funding but have not yet been built out, the fact that the area is RDOF eligible will count against an application to serve one of those areas in the scoring but it will not make an area ineligible for grant funding. Ten points will be awarded to every application for an unserved area that is not in a RDOF eligible area. This determination will be made by overlaying a map of the proposed service area with the census blocks eligible for RDOF funding.
The state grant will not fund overlapping areas of federal grant programs like USDA ReConnect or EDA for funds providing a fixed, terrestrial 10mb/1mb connection that has been approved and announced in advance of state awards announcements. This includes ReConnect Round 1.
Other Eligibility Criteria:
-Grant funding can only be used to pay for costs associated with deployment of broadband to unserved areas.
-An unserved area is defined as a designated geographic area in which households or businesses are without a fixed, terrestrial connection supporting at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.
o Areas lacking fixed, terrestrial 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds will be given priority in application scoring.
-Proposed service areas are not required to be contiguous. However, non-contiguous areas more than 10 miles apart must include an explanation of how the economic and community impact is the same for the proposed areas.
-Determination of the available broadband service:
o The most recent available data from the FCC Form 477 will be used to determine existing service levels.
o Because this data is collected on a census block level and can overstate the availability of services, an applicant is permitted to provide additional information to demonstrate that the proposed service area is in fact unserved.
o Additional information must be sufficient to conclude that an area is in fact eligible and may include but is not limited to:
▪ Statistically significant survey data for the designated area, or
▪ Documentation of the location of existing infrastructure within a given census block.
o If a new FCC data set is released during the application period or scoring period, grant finalists will be given a three-week period to respond to any changes in the data in their proposed service areas.
-Application scoring will include an evaluation of the likelihood that the proposed area will receive broadband service without state grant funding. This will include consideration of federal funding sources including FCC CAF II or RDOF eligible areas, USDA ReConnect or others that will result in the provision of at least a fixed, terrestrial 10/1 service. Applications must include a map file (acceptable formats: .shp, .kml, or .kmz) of the proposed service area.
-Maps of areas eligible according to the FCC data will be available as well as a downloadable GIS shapefile for use in preparing an application.
-Applicants may provide information regarding additional infrastructure deployments that are not eligible for grant funding to provide context for the proposed project in the relevant portions of the application.
Grant covers up to 50% of eligible project expenses. For the first 85% of the grant award, expenses will be reimbursed as incurred and requests for payment are submitted. The remaining 15% of grant funds will be available upon submission of grant closeout and final report.
Digital Inclusion: https://www.tn.gov/ecd/rural-development/tennessee-broadband-grant-initiative/digital-inclusion-toolkit.html