The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech has launched a new competitive grant program that aims to deliver high-speed internet infrastructure to areas that currently lack broadband-level service.

The Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Grant Program aims to expand connectivity to unserved and underserved locations throughout the state to help bridge the digital divide, with a particular focus on communities with substantial low-income households and disadvantaged populations.

The program is funded by $145 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund.

The MBI will host a technical assistance webinar on Nov. 14 at 10 a.m.

Details on program requirements and the webinar are available on the MassTech procurement page.

The Gap Networks program will consist of two solicitation grant rounds:
Round 1
Application deadline: Dec. 11, 2023
Expected awards: January/February 2024
Round 2
Application deadline: April 17, 2024
Expected awards: May/June 2024

As outlined in the grant solicitation (PDF), organizations that are eligible to submit applications for awards include:
• Private entities: corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, limited partnerships, etc.
• Local governmental entities: municipalities or municipal light plants that offer broadband service, Native American Tribes, and nonprofit organizations
• Cooperatives, electric cooperatives, and utilities
• Public-private partnerships: long-term agreements between local government entities and private entities for the delivery and funding of broadband services
• Entities that develop and/or operate broadband networks: organizations that can demonstrate the experience, capacity and financial resources and stability to satisfy the grant obligations

The program is administered by the MassTech Collaborative and the state’s Executive Office of Economic Development to fund projects that will deploy broadband infrastructure in areas that currently lack access to high-speed internet service, which is defined under the federal program guidelines as service that offers download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps.

The MBI is still accepting applications from cities and towns to receive support through the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program, which has supported 62 municipalities to date with free technical assistance to identify barriers to internet access. The agency is also funding projects through the Digital Equity Partnerships Program, as well as efforts to address the digital divide across the state through six connectivity programs, including enhanced WiFi Access, modernization of public space internet, connectivity initiatives for those facing economic hardship, digital literacy efforts, device distribution and refurbishment, and education, outreach and adoption programming.