About the Broadband Opportunity Program

The Broadband Opportunity Program is a competitive reimbursement grant program within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) Office of Broadband (Office), created to expand broadband Internet service to unserved areas of this state, which will encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of local economies. The Program was created and is governed by section 288.9962, F.S.; and the Florida Legislature appropriated $400 million in federally funded State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to increase access to reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet service within the state. Additional guidance may be found in Chapter 73C-50, Florida Administrative Code (proposed), Amendments to Coronavirus SLFRF Requirements 87 Federal Regulation 4338, and Coronavirus SLFRF Requirements Title 31 CFR Part 35.

Application Window

Per section 288.9962(6)(a), F.S., “at least 30 days before the first day grant applications may be submitted each fiscal year, the office shall publish on its website the specific criteria and quantitative scoring system it will use to evaluate or rank grant applications.” The Broadband Opportunity Program's Grant Application and Scoring and Evaluation Criteria is available below.  

The application window for the grant program will open on November 2, 2022, and will close on December 9, 2022. A list of applicants will be posted to the Office of Broadband website within three business days of the application window closing. The challenge window will open on December 14, 2022, and will close on January 28, 2023.

Helpful Links:

Technical Assistance Webinars

Statewide Technical Assistance Webinar

The Office of Broadband hosted a Statewide Technical Assistance Webinar on October 20, 2022. This webinar provided information regarding the Broadband Opportunity Program's timeline, application, funding, and eligibility, and addressed remaining questions at the end of the presentation.

Rural Technical Assistance Webinar

The Office of Broadband hosted a Rural Technical Assistance Webinar on November 1, 2022. This webinar provided information on the Broadband Opportunity Program's timeline, application, funding, eligibility for applicants, with a focus on rural communities and Local Technology Planning Teams (LTPTs). 

Technical Assistance Webinar Questions and Answers:

Rulemaking Workshops

The Florida Legislature granted the Office of Broadband rule making authority for the Broadband Opportunity Program. The Proposed Rule provides detail on the Broadband Opportunity Program, and can be found in the Florida Administrative Register.

Three regional Rulemaking workshops were held and provided an opportunity for Public Comments and questions to be received by DEO. The Rulemaking workshops were held in Polk County on August 22, 2022; Santa Rosa County on August 25, 2022; and Glades County on August 29, 2022.  

Eligible Applicants, Activities and Technical Assistance

Broadband Opportunity Program awards are available to corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, and limited partnerships that are organized under the laws of this state or otherwise authorized to transact business in this state, political subdivisions, and Indian Tribes. 

Grant funds may not be used to install or deploy broadband Internet service to a geographic area in which broadband Internet service is already deployed by at least one service provider.                

Eligible activities for Broadband Opportunity Program Funding include installation or deployment of infrastructure that supports the provision of reliable, affordable high-speed broadband internet service in unserved areas of the state (section 288.9962, F.S.). 

Any costs reimbursed with Broadband Opportunity Program funds must be reasonable and allocable, as described in 2 C.F.R Part 200.404 and Part 200.405, respectively. Pre-Award costs, as defined in 2 C.F.R. Part 200.458, shall not be paid with these funds.

All funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024, and be expended by DEO by December 31, 2026.

DEO staff are available to provide support throughout the application process. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend all scheduled webinars and trainings provided by DEO. Applicants can find current information about the Broadband Opportunity Program www.FloridaJobs.org/Broadband. Questions regarding the program should be sent to Broadband@DEO.MyFlorida.com.     

Program Timeline

  • In October 2022, the Office of Broadband filed the final rule package to JAPC and updated the Office website with information on the Broadband Opportunity Program, including program guidelines, frequently asked questions, and information on the technical assistance walkthrough webinars. 
  • In September 2022, DEO posted the final application and scoring and evaluation criteria for the Broadband Opportunity Program to the website.  DEO also Published the Notice of Proposed Rule in the Florida Administrative Weekly. 
  • In August 2022, DEO hosted three regional workshops (Bartow in Polk County on August 22, Milton in Santa Rosa County on August 25, and Moore Haven in Glades County on August 29, 2022) to receive community input on rulemaking for the implementation of the $400 million Broadband Opportunity Program. 
  • In June 2022, DEO submitted the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate. The Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband lays out the vision of the Office of Broadband, the roles for state and local participants, and the strategies to undertake as Florida works toward a fully connected citizenry, both economically and socially.
  • In June 2022, DEO published the Faster Florida Broadband Map, which identifies census blocks as unserved, underserved, served, and no fixed internet service as defined in Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes. The map also identifies Florida geographic boundaries, community anchor institutions, grant funding opportunities, and information on the speed tests taken through the Florida Broadband Availability Map.
  • In May 2022, DEO formally initiated the rule making process and published the draft rule for the Broadband Opportunity Program.  The draft rule was posted to the website for public review in preparation for the public workshops and open comment period.
  • In December 2021, DEO published Florida’s Broadband Availability Map to identify where broadband-capable networks exist, where service is available to end users, gaps in rural areas, and download and upload speeds. DEO continues to collect data from Floridians on their availability and accessibility of broadband Internet to be added to the map through its Broadband Internet Speed Test. 
  • In September 2021, DEO launched the Local Technology Planning Team initiative using the Broadband Planning Toolkit developed by the Office of Broadband. Local Technology Planning Teams are tasked with working within their communities to understand their current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers, and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the community. 
  • In February 2021, DEO partnered with the Florida Regional Councils Association to host 10 virtual workshops where participants discussed broadband Internet accessibility. Industry sector and community leaders within each region were invited to participate. These industry sectors included education, healthcare, private business, community organizations, agriculture, tourism, parks and recreation, economic development, local governments, and Internet service providers.
  • During Florida’s 2021 Legislative session, House Bill 1239 passed and provided an allocation of $1.5 million to develop geographic information system (GIS) maps of Florida’s currently availability of broadband Internet service.  
  • In July 2020, the Florida Office of Broadband was established within DEO’s Division of Community Development to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband Internet throughout the state. The amendment of Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, and creation of Sections 288.9962 and 288.9963, Florida Statutes, provides DEO access to federal grant dollars and assists rural communities with the expansion of broadband services, as well as provides directives for broadband mapping and the Broadband Opportunity Program.  

Contact the Office of Broadband

The Office of Broadband is eager to assist you with any questions regarding the Broadband Opportunity Grant Program. Please contact us with any Broadband Opportunity Grant Program questions or concerns you may have.

Address:
107 E. Madison Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Email: Broadband@DEO.MyFlorida.com

An equal opportunity employer/program.  Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
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