Governor Reynolds has authorized the allocation and expenditure of residual funds totaling $15,452,302.00 from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (“Coronavirus Relief Funds”) to address the increased need for internet connectivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, pursuant to 2020 Iowa Acts 1078 § 16, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (“Office” or “OCIO”) is afforded significant flexibility in administering the disbursement of Coronavirus Relief 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 residual federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
The purpose of this NOFA is to solicit Applications from Responsible Applicants for the build out of Broadband Infrastructure Projects that will provide the greatest overall impact in furthering telework, telehealth, distance learning, and other remote services to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Targeted Service Areas of the State. Targeted Service Areas are areas within which, as of July 31, 2020, either no Communications Service Provider Facilitated at least 25/3 Broadband, or otherwise any area that is materially underserved or without meaningfully available Broadband (See Iowa Administrative Code chapter 129—20). Applications must provide a demonstrable nexus to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a nexus to furthering telework, telehealth, distance learning, and other remote services. This grant round is based on renewed Targeted Service Area determinations published to an updated version of the Statewide Broadband Availability Map on October 28, 2020 at: https://ocio.iowa.gov/broadband-availability-map-version-3. These determinations and this map identify the geographic areas in the State of Iowa in which grant funds under this program are available. Consistent with the foregoing, the Office is seeking Proposals from Responsible Applicants to provide or incentivize expansion of a minimum of 25/3 Broadband to Targeted Service Areas in the State of Iowa. 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 by reducing or eliminating Targeted Service Areas through the installation of Broadband Infrastructure that Facilitates Broadband service at speeds equal to at least 25/3 Broadband, 50/5 Broadband, or speeds equal to or greater than 100/100 Broadband. 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 during the pandemic.