AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT BID PROCESS TO CONNECT UNSERVED AND UNDERSERVED HOUSEHOLDS IN AREAS OF A COUNTY THAT ARE WITHIN ONE MILE OF EXISTING BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE.
Authorizes a county to identify an eligible area, defined (among other things) as a discrete area within the county that does not have access to broadband service and borders an area within the county that presently has access to broadband service, to coordinate with a qualified private provider in the State to expand broadband service to unserved households. Details a bidding process to contract with a qualified private provider. Allows counties to initiate a bid process with a qualified private provider and specifies required elements of an application by a qualified private provider, including a detailed outline of the project.
Allows a county to select from among the bid proposals and contract with one or more providers, subject to the required terms of the agreement identified, including the provider agreeing to maintain service in the eligible area for at least 10 years from project completion. Sets parameters for prioritizing bids based on broadband speeds provided by the provider. Requires the county to provide colocation with its existing infrastructure for a project at no cost to the provider. Allows for bid awards to allow for progress payments to the provider upon completing benchmarks identified in the agreement. Establishes matching requirements for counties of the bid amount, based on development tier and the fund balance's percentage of the county budget, ranging from 10% to 50% match.
Establishes the County Broadband Deployment Fund as a special revenue fund in the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM). Restricts use of monies in the Fund to bid award agreements between counties and qualified private providers. Authorizes OSBM to allocate funds to the county at 50% of the bid amount, minus the county matching requirement. Caps receipt of monies from the Fund at $2 million per county.
Appropriates $25 million from the General Fund to the Fund for 2021-22 to be allocated to counties pursuant to the act.
Effective July 1, 2021.