In 2014 House File 655 (“HF 655”) was signed into law. 2015 Iowa Acts, ch. 120, § 26-38 (codified, in relevant part, at Iowa Code chapter 8B (2015)). HF 655 was designed to help reduce the “digital divide” and better deploy technology assets across the State of Iowa, with special emphasis on the critical broadband needs of rural Iowans. HF 655 was comprised of several components, one of which includes the “Broadband Grants Program” or “Program” administered by the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the State of Iowa (“Office” or “OCIO”). See also Iowa Code § 8B.11 (2019); Iowa Admin. Code r. 129—22.
In 2019 the Office awarded approximately $1.3 million to Communications Service Providers for the installation of Broadband Infrastructure across the State. Also in 2019 House File 772 (“HF 772”), the Empower Rural Iowa Act, was signed into law. 2019 Iowa Acts, ch. 159. Division II of HF 772 reauthorized the Broadband Grants Program through 2025.
Since that time, and prior to the issuance of this Notice of Funding Availability # 002 (“NOFA”), the Office undertook a process to make renewed determinations of whether a Communications Service Provider offers or Facilitates broadband service at or above the download or upload speeds specified in the definition of Targeted Service Area in Iowa Code section 8B.1 by publishing an updated version of the Statewide, Broadband Availability Map. This updated version of the Broadband Availability Map identifies the geographic areas in the State in which incentives under current programs are available. The updated version of the Map is available at: https://ocio.iowa.gov/broadband-availability-map-version-2
With that backdrop in mind, the purpose of this NOFA is to solicit Applications that will enable the Office to select Broadband Infrastructure Projects that will have the greatest overall effect of reducing or eliminating Unserved and Underserved Areas in the State. The Office will do so by awarding up to $5 million in grants to Communications Service Providers whose proposed Projects will reduce or eliminate Targeted Service Areas through the installation of Broadband Infrastructure that, at a minimum, Facilitates 25/3 Broadband in the Targeted Service Areas forming the basis of the Projects.