Governor Reynolds has authorized the allocation and expenditure of $50,000,000 from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (“CARES Act Funds”) to address the increased need for internet connectivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, pursuant to Section 16 (Public Health Disaster Emergency Grants) of 2020 Iowa Acts, Senate File 2400, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (“OCIO” or “Office”) is afforded significant flexibility in administering the disbursement of CARES Act Funds to Communications Service Providers to Facilitate Broadband service in this State. Id. (“Notwithstanding section 8B.11 and any rules adopted by the office of the chief information officer pursuant to chapter 8B, the office of the chief information officer may provide grants of federal moneys obtained as a result of the public health disaster emergency proclaimed by the governor on March 17, 2020, to communications service providers to install broadband infrastructure in this state or facilitate broadband service in this state so long as the office of the chief information officer complies with the federal requirements for the use of the federal moneys.”). For the avoidance of doubt, this funding opportunity does not utilize any available state funds, which funds will be Awarded and distributed pursuant to a separate funding opportunity, and this is a one-time-funding opportunity leveraging federal CARES Act Funds.
Consistent with the foregoing, the Office is seeking Proposals from Responsible Applicants to provide or incentivize expansion and adoption of a minimum of consistent and reliable 25/3 Broadband or 100/20 Broadband, as applicable, to unserved Broadband Units or Non-Adopters located in the State of Iowa in a manner that provides the best value to or is to the greatest benefit of the State by providing the greatest overall impact in furthering telework, telehealth, distance learning, and other remote services in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic. Provided there is a demonstrable nexus to the COVID 19 pandemic, including a nexus to furthering telework, telehealth, distance learning, and other remote services, Applicant’s proposals may accomplish this in one of two of the following ways, or through a combination of both or either of the following:
- By reducing or eliminating unserved Broadband Units in the State through the installation of Broadband Infrastructure that Facilitates Broadband service at or above 25/3 Broadband or 100/20 Broadband, as applicable (“Infrastructure Project(s)”).
- By providing broadband service subscription discounts to Non-Adopters to reduce barriers to adoption and encourage subscription to 25/3 Broadband or faster (“Adoption Projects”).
This Empower Rural Iowa, Emergency Broadband Expansion Program (“Program”) will benefit residents and businesses as the need for distance learning, telework, telehealth, and other remote services continues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Program application materials can be found here: https://ocio.iowa.gov/notice-funding-availability-003-federal-funding-opportunity