On March 6, the Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO) announced the opening of the state’s new broadband program, Bringing Online Opportunities to Texas (BOOT) Program. This competitive grant program is intended to support last-mile broadband projects to unserved and underserved homes in eligible project locations. Projects must be designed to deliver symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps with the end goal of enabling work, education, and health monitoring. Applications must be submitted by May 5, 2023.
In order to apply for funds, a project must be proposed within contiguous areas that are eligible for funding. To determine whether or not an area is eligible, applicants must use the Texas Broadband Development Office map and filter by census block eligibility.
The BDO will evaluate and score applications on a variety of criteria. Among other criteria, reviewers will heavily weigh both the project’s anticipated impact on broadband access in the wider community and the feasibility of the proposed project.
But even if BOOT isn’t a fit for your connectivity project, there are several things your organization can begin to do to prepare for upcoming broadband funding:
- Begin developing a comprehensive plan: Create a comprehensive plan that outlines your broadband goals and strategies for achieving them. The plan should include a needs assessment that identifies areas that lack broadband access or lack affordable access, as well as an analysis of existing infrastructure and potential barriers to deployment.
- Identify your technology needs: As you develop your comprehensive plan and take stock of what the need is in your community, you will want to use this information to determine what technology solutions will be best suited to address these needs. Is it getting devices into the hands of residents in under-resourced communities? Is it fiber to the home? Or is it a public wi-fi project? This will not only determine which grant you pursue, but also will affect your budget, scope of work, and your partnerships.
- Engage stakeholders and develop partnerships: Start building partnerships with other organizations in your community, including other governments, internet service providers, community organizations, and local businesses. Engagement with the community can take the form of public meetings and forums to gather feedback and ideas. The partnerships that emerge from these and other activities can help your organization leverage resources and expertise to make the project more successful. These outreach activities will also be important to discuss in your grant application when asked to demonstrate community buy-in.