(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today his agency is now accepting grant applications for broadband infrastructure projects as part of the Bringing Online Opportunities to Texas (BOOT) Program.
Texas has been allocated $363.8 million through the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to carry out critical infrastructure projects related to expanding access to high-speed internet. The Broadband Development Office (BDO) will distribute these funds through a multi-round competitive grant process, with this first round of funds totaling $120 million.
“I am encouraging potential applicants to review all supporting materials on the BOOT Program webpage before beginning an application,” Hegar said. “Expanding broadband access will require collaboration and partnerships between local governments and private entities across counties and among residents. This infrastructure is the interstate highway system of this century, and ensuring Texans have access to reliable, high-speed internet is critical for Texas’ continued economic growth and prosperity.”
To participate in the program and submit a proposed project for funding, an eligible applicant must be one of the following:
- A political subdivision of this state
- Commercial broadband service provider
- Non-commercial broadband service provider
- A partnership of any of the above
Applications must be submitted using the BDO Application System by Friday, May 5.
In January, the BDO published the Texas Broadband Development Map to identify eligible areas of the state for funding projects. Applications must only include unserved and underserved broadband serviceable locations in these suitable areas.
On March 6, Hegar announced the BDO’s intent to solicit an initial round of grant applications for $120 million in funding for broadband infrastructure projects as part of the BOOT Program. The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) announcement provided details on the program, eligibility, and application process.
The BDO posted responses to the questions received from interested parties during the public NOFA question and answer period on the TXSmartBuy website. These responses will help clarify the NOFA and application process.
Eligible broadband infrastructure projects must be designed to deliver, upon completion, broadband service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Awarded applicants must also provide a universally available low-cost option for locations serviced by the project and participate in a federal broadband subsidy program.
The BDO was established by the state legislature in 2021 and housed within the Texas Comptroller’s office to help close the digital divide in Texas. The BOOT Program is the state’s first competitive broadband grant program focused on last-mile connectivity: connecting end-users to high-speed internet. In addition, the program supports broadband infrastructure projects in eligible areas that bring reliable, affordable internet service to communities in need.