Broadband Construction FAQ
Broadband Terminology
Washington Broadband Funding Programs

PWB Broadband

Eligible Applicants for State Funding

Public Entities:
• Cities and Towns
• Counties
• Public Port Districts
• Public Utility Districts
• Other Special Purpose Districts
• Quasi-Municipal Corporation
• Tribes
• Nonprofit Organizations
• Cooperative Associations

Private Entities:
• Limited liability corporations organized for the purpose of expanding broadband access
• Incorporated businesses or partnerships

To ensure that a grant or loan to a private entity primarily serves the public interest and benefits the public, there must be a guarantee that the asset or infrastructure to be developed will be maintained for public use for a period of at least fifteen years.

Funding Limits for State Funding

• $2 million per project loan/grant award limit with a 50% match.
• Projects in financially distressed areas and Indian country may receive up to 90% of the total project cost for a total not to exceed $5 million.

Information

Map showing the geographic distribution of PWB conditional awards of federal funds in 2022.
Click to enlarge

Broadband Infrastructure Survey

Understanding the needs of local communities for high-speed broadband access is essential to the Washington State Broadband Office, Community Economic Revitalization Board, and Public Works Board. In order to maximize the impact of all three programs, we are coordinating our efforts to move Washington’s broadband access goals forward.

As part of these efforts, we are developing a joint pipeline of projects and need your assistance! Please take a few minutes to complete this broadband infrastructure survey. As one of our nearly 300 partners working to build broadband infrastructure, the information you provide enables all three programs to advocate for funding and illustrate a comprehensive picture of the need for broadband infrastructure funding throughout the state.

We anticipate this survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Your responses are non-binding and are for forecasting purposes only.

2022 Broadband Construction State Funded Loans – Closed

Scoring Criteria for All Broadband Program Applications (Updated 4/27/2021)
Distressed Areas List

Proposed project area speeds and locations

The Broadband Construction Loan Program focuses on the activities that assist in the acquisition, installation, and construction of middle mile and last mile infrastructure that supports broadband services, and assists in strategic planning for deploying broadband service in unserved areas.

Please note: RCW 43.155.160(5)(o) requires all applicants to the PWB Broadband Program to contact local Internet service providers (ISP) near the proposed project area a minimum of six-weeks prior to submitting an application – no later than March 15, 2022 for this funding opportunity. This contact is to request the ISP’s plan to upgrade broadband service in the project area to speeds that meet or exceed the state’s definition of broadband service within the time frame of the proposed project. Utilize the Provider Notice Template for these contacts.

Questions? Please contact Sheila Richardson, Broadband Program Manager, at Sheila.Richardson@commerce.wa.gov.

Online Application for Funding

Electronic submission of all applications for broadband loans is through ZoomGrants. Paper copies will not be accepted.

Apply for PWB – Broadband Loans via ZoomGrants. If you have a ZoomGrants account, log in and follow the instructions. If you are a new user, complete the required information for a new ZoomGrants account to create a profile. Please do not use “The” as the first word in the agency name. Once the agency profile has been created, select the Public Works Board Loan you wish to apply for, check the “apply” button, and start your proposal. Answers are automatically saved.

Prior to submitting an application, please print out and complete the Threshold Criteria Checklist. This will ensure that the submitted application is complete.

Broadband Loan Application Guidelines PDF
Broadband Loan Application Overview PDF
Broadband Loan Application Workshop Video
Broadband Loan Application Workshop PDF
Training – Using ZoomGrants to Apply for Public Works Board Loans PDF
ZoomGrants Applicant Slideshow PDF

 

Planning-Feasibility Study Grants
Cycle – Closed

Broadband Planning-Feasibility Study Grants are for strategic planning activities that facilitate the deployment of broadband service in unserved areas across Washington. The total amount available is $500,000, with a maximum award of $50,000 per applicant.

Broadband Planning-Feasibility Grant Application Guidelines (PDF)
Broadband Planning-Feasibility Application Preview (PDF)  

Feasibility and Outreach Grant
Cycle – Closed

Broadband Feasibility and Outreach grants support public outreach and engagement activities that establish and galvanize community-based efforts to bring broadband infrastructure to unserved areas. Community-based efforts, such as Broadband Action Teams, are essential to ensure that community needs are met in planning for broadband expansion.

Broadband Feasibility and Outreach Grant Application Guidelines (PDF)
Broadband Feasibility and Outreach Grant Application Preview (PDF)

Broadband Staff

Sheila Richardson
Broadband Program Manager
Sheila.Richardson@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 564-999-1927

Ava Gombosky
Broadband Project Manager
Ava.Gombosky@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-338-5739


Join the Broadband Email List

Program Resources and Cultural Review Information

In order to protect the rich cultural heritage of Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 21-02 (GEO 21-02). Recipients of state capital funds must consult with the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) and any Federally recognized Indian tribes that may have cultural and/or historic interest or concerns in the project’s vicinity. However, if the project is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act  through federal involvement (such as the use of Federal funding or the need to acquire Federal permits), then the Governor’s Executive Order (GEO) 21-02 process is unnecessary.

Recipients will not move forward with any pre-construction or construction activities that will disturb soils(such as, drilling test wells, completing geo-tech work, grading, clearing, etc.), or construction activities until GEO 21-02 is completed (and/or both the SERP and 106 processes, if applicable) and the PWB has issued a final compliance letter. If ground-disturbing activities occur prior to the Recipient receiving the final compliance letter, the PWB loan funding will be jeopardized.

A government-to-government relationship must be properly adhered to for the cultural review. As such, it is the PWB’s responsibility to contact the Tribes and the DAHP. The PWB will notify the Recipient when a cultural resources survey is necessary. It is the Recipient’s responsibility to hire a qualified archaeologist to conduct the survey and submit a draft of the survey to the PWB for final approval.

Mark Rentfrow is the Public Works Board’s primary contact regarding the GEO 21-02 process. Award recipients start the process by submitting an EZ1 form to the PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison. The PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison will conduct the consultation with the DAHP and the Tribes. You can email materials to mark.rentfrow@commerce.wa.gov or mail to:

Mark Rentfrow
Department of Commerce
Public Works Board
PO Box 42525
Olympia, WA 98504-2525

The GEO 21-02 process requires award recipients to define the construction project area for potential impact, and identify any building or structures 45-years or older that are located within the project site. For projects that plan to alter structure 45-years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed by the Recipient. The DAHP can issue a broad range of responses to the submittal. A common response is a “No Effect Upon Cultural/Historic Properties” letter. If you receive such a letter, you have completed the DAHP portion of the review.

If the DAHP requires more information (completion of additional forms, cultural survey, inadvertent discovery plan, etc.) you must comply with the request. It is possible that you will need to hire a professional archaeologist to address this. Only when the DAHP concurs with the additional materials provided is the DAHP portion of GEO 21-02 complete. For projects that plan to alter structures 45 years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed.

Tribal consultation is initiated by the PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison sending a letter to the potential affected Federally recognized Indian tribes(s). The letter details any project information describing the location and extent of the project, along with a map of the impacted area. The Tribe(s) will be allowed at least 30-days to respond. There may be no response, or there may be a wide range of responses to the information provided. As with the DAHP, if additional materials are required, they must be provided to the Tribe(s) and they must concur with the findings.

Statewide Broadband Account

The Statewide Broadband Account is funded through legislative appropriation, the proceeds of bond sales authorized by the legislature, repayment of loans, or any other lawful source.

In the 2019-21 biennium, the Statewide Broadband Account received a $21.5 million transfer from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) for broadband capital projects, less operating costs to staff the program.