Washington State Broadband Office
In 2019, the Washington Legislature enacted Second Substitute Senate Bill 5511, recognizing that broadband access is critical to the residents of Washington. The legislation established access and download/upload speed goals for residences, businesses and communities.
To enrich the lives of all Washington state residents and businesses by ensuring they have access to affordable, reliable, redundant and scalable/future proof broadband technologies ensuring the economic viability of both urban and rural Washington state today and into the future.
It is the goal of the state of Washington under RCW 43.330.536:
- By 2024: 25/3 megabits per second (Mbps) scalable
- By 2026: 1/1 gigabit per second (Gbps) all anchor institutions
- By 2028: 150/150 Mbps all residents and businesses
Broadband Infrastructure Funding
We’d like to provide an update on the timeline for the Infrastructure Acceleration Grant (IAG) 2022 / ARPA – Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). While we originally targeted the NOFO for mid-June, we are pausing the release. Without having exact dates available, we anticipate the NOFO will be published in the fall, with award announcements expected in the first quarter of 2023.
What we’re doing now
The Washington State Broadband Office (WSBO) plans to use the time between now and the NOFO release in the fall to receive critical stakeholder engagement on a set of policy and procedure questions that are critical to the work we’re all doing.
Within the next few weeks, WSBO will send a list of questions for your consideration; we’d like to receive your written comments to inform how we move forward. Using your input, WSBO will create draft recommendations for each issue that we will then invite you to discuss with us in a roundtable event early this fall.
From the roundtable, we will develop final outcomes, including policy recommendations and/or process changes. We intend to have this step completed by mid-October, in time for integration into the upcoming NOFO.
This schedule is not yet finalized, however, we’ll send calendar holds and additional information as available. We believe using this time to get stakeholder feedback and to create collaborative outcomes will strengthen this NOFO process and create even greater transparency around our work.
How we’re communicating
Our goal is to be as communicative as possible about timelines and our stakeholder engagement process. With this message to potential applicants and partners, we’re hoping to have reached the majority of parties who will want this update. Please let us know if you believe we’ve missed communicating with a segment of our intended audience.
We appreciate your patience.
The State Broadband Office finalized the list of projects that have been selected for funding in our first round of Infrastructure Acceleration Grants. A second round of funding will become available later this spring.
The WSBO is one of 13 projects awarded funding from the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program. Washington will receive $30 million for last-mile fiber and last-mile wireless projects that aim to overcome barriers to broadband access and connectivity in five rural counties of the state: Ferry, Jefferson, Kittitas, Okanogan and Stevens, serving an estimated 7,196 unserved households. These counties were selected following through a 2019 assessment – part of our collaborative work between WSBO, Public Works Board and CERB to provide universal high-speed internet access throughout the state by 2024.
The WSBO has matching grants available for federal broadband infrastructure financing opportunities. Matching fund applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis for local partners applying for federal broadband infrastructure funding (grants or loans). Match grant awards will be committed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants whose projects are strong candidates for the federal funding opportunity sought. Match awards may not exceed $5 million or 25% of the federal grant amount sought, whichever is less.
Eligible applicants include local governments, federally recognized Tribes, nonprofit organizations and nonprofit cooperative organizations, and public-private partnerships
The State Broadband Office, the Public Works Board, and the Community Revitalization Board all fund broadband projects. What’s the difference? Learn more here: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/broadband-funding/
The WSBO and the Office of Equity are partnering to hold a Digital Equity Forum to advance digital equity in Washington. The Forum will host At-large meetings and community listening sessions through 2022.
The State Broadband Office has partnered with four community organizations to bring trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices.
In response to the impacts of COVID-19, Drive-In WiFi Hotspots provide free temporary, emergency internet access for Washingtonians who do not have broadband service to their homes.
Affordable Connectivity Program
Get help paying for internet
1. Learn about the Affordable Connectivity Program
Congress created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a new long-term $14 billion program that replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program in March 2022.
Households enrolled in the EBB Program as of 12/31/21 will be emailed information about how to re-enroll to the ACP program from their internet service provider. New households wanting to enroll can find a list of participating service providers on the FCC webpage.
What changed Dec. 31, 2021?
- The maximum monthly benefit changed from $50 per month to $30 per month for households not located on qualifying Tribal lands. The monthly benefit remains at $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
- Households can qualify for the ACP in several ways:
- Having an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines;
- At least one person in the household receives benefits from one of the following federal assistance programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental security Income, federal Public Housing Assistance (FHPA), or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit;
- At least one person in the household is in the free and reduced price lunch program or the school breakfast program; or
- At least one person in the household has received a federal Pell Grant in the current award year.
2. Lifeline Program
Lifeline is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly benefit for income-eligible subscribers on monthly telephone service, broadband service, or voice-broadband bundled services. Households on federally recognized Tribal lands can receive up to $25 per month in addition to the standard benefit of $9.25.
Households are eligible for Lifeline if:
- The household income is 135% or less of the federal poverty guidelines;
- If someone in the household participates in SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, FPHA, or the Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit; or
- The household is on Tribal lands, meets income requirements, and someone in the household participates in any of the federal assistance programs listed above or other tribal assistance programs.
Broadband Action Teams Information
Broadband Action Teams (BAT) are community-driven collaborations that identify the connectivity and accessibility needs for their communities. A BAT can help a community:
- Centralize the broadband conversation and direct engagement to the State Broadband Office.
- Assist statewide digital equity and inclusion efforts and represent community technology and accessibility needs.
- Connect participants to collaborative project goals.
- Bring early awareness of community projects to funding opportunities.
Please note that not all counties have an active Bat. Not seeing your BAT on this page? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your group listed!
When will broadband service be available at my location?
There is no single “right” answer to how broadband reaches a community. Every community approaches broadband in their own way and at their own pace as resources allow. Here are a few suggested places where you can make local contact to ask about what plans may be in place for your community.
Contact your local elected officials: Look on your county/city/town website for contact information for commissioners and other elected officials.
Your community may have a port, and the port may be working on broadband. See if your community has a port here:
Your community may have a public utility district, and the public utility district may be working on broadband. See if your community has a public utility district here:
FAQs (wpuda.org) (scroll down to find a list of PUDs)
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission may have additional information. Get started here:
Email us at: email@example.com
Digital Equity Forum Survey
We are conducting a survey to better understand the challenges that Washingtonians are experiencing when using and connecting to the internet. The survey has been prepared in 15 different languages as well as recorded in American Sign Language to reach as many Washingtonians as possible.
Please help us spread the word and share this survey! We are relying on your assistance to help us reach everyone that may be facing challenges related to digital connectivity. We are committed to hearing from as many voices as possible.
Public Works Board – State Broadband Infrastructure Funding
CERB – Rural Broadband Construction and Planning Funding
2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window: How to File
USDA ReConnect Loan and Grant Program
ReConnect Program Eligible Area Map
USDA Community Connect Grants
USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants
NTIA Comprehensive Guide to Federal Broadband Funding