Critical Timing for Broadband Grants for REAs
If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it is that rural communities’ need better, faster broadband solutions now. Today, grants for broadband are being pumped into network expansion (fiber and fixed wireless) to satisfy the needs of online learning, work from home, and tele-medicine. Companies are switching to long term policies of remote workers. And corporations are shrinking headquarters office size for health safety and cost reductions. The defined broadband standard of 25/3Mbps is no longer adequate. We are already seeing large migrations of professionals from urban areas to rural communities. This trend should strengthen even more next spring. With that migration comes the demand for more electricity and higher broadband speeds.
So, what does this mean for rural coops?
Grants for broadband expansion are available for REAs to add broadband services to their portfolio. REAs have the infrastructure to do this more cost effectively than anyone else. Additionally, REAs will have a great opportunity to upgrade substations and radio systems with those same dollars for future video security, substation Wi-Fi, and IP migration. Control your own destiny. If you don’t, someone else will steal your virtual cheese.
Combinations of fiber and fixed wireless provide the greatest capabilities of cost effectively reaching customers in some of the most difficult areas. Bridging long expanses using microwave will help reduce CapEx costs.
- The next cycle for DORA is Jan 15th. REAs still have time to put together an application. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora-broadband-fund/broadband-how-to-apply
- The USDA also has grants and low interest loan available through their ReConnect Program. https://www.usda.gov/reconnect
- In 2019, the FCC established the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to bring high speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses. This is a more complex funding mechanism that involves a reverse auction. Castle Rock Microwave can assist you in navigating this option
Providing accurate information is critical for any grant applications and effective use of funds. Castle Rock Microwave can assist you with providing an accurate budget and designing a complete system from fiber to fixed wireless. Please contact Arn Hayden at (303) 358-7039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.