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Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI)

Grants to Virginia Agencies Partnering with a Private
ISP to Establish Broadband Infrastructure

Agency Type:

State

Funding Source:

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Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)

Conf. Date:

06/17/21

LOI Date:

07/27/21

Deadline Date:

09/14/21 11:59 PM

Description:

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Grants to Virginia local government agencies partnering with a private internet service provider to extend broadband services to communities throughout the state. Funding is intended to cover a portion of the construction costs associated with establishing infrastructure in unserved areas.

Notwithstanding program requirements that applications include a private-sector internet service provider as the co-applicant, the Fiscal Year 2022 round of VATI will implement a one-year pilot program in which public broadband authorities may apply directly for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative funds without investment from the private sector.

Administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) enhances the sustainability and growth of communities throughout the Commonwealth by preparing those communities to build, utilize, and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure.

The primary objective of VATI is to provide financial assistance to supplement construction costs by private sector broadband service providers, in partnership with local units of government, to extend service to areas that presently are unserved by any broadband provider.

Universal Coverage:

Governor Northam has set a goal for universal broadband coverage throughout the Commonwealth by 2028. To that end, DHCD encourages applicants to ensure all projects either achieve, or are part of a plan to achieve, universal broadband for the locality or region. Localities can find resources for developing a universal broadband plan on the Commonwealth Connect website at http://www.commonwealthconnect.virginia.gov/broadband-toolkit.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 196732

Estimated Total Program Funding:

$49,725,000

Estimated Size of Grant:

DHCD reserves the right to award any amount to eligible grantees, depending entirely on the quality and quantity of applications received. VATI funding shall not exceed 80 percent of the total project cost.

Term of Contract:

Applicants must demonstrate that projects will be completed within 18 months. DHCD will consider longer project timelines for larger project areas if applicants can sufficiently detail the reasoning for an extended timeline in their application.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applications must be submitted by a unit of government (Towns, Cities, Counties, Economic Development Authorities/Industrial Development Authorities, Planning District Commissions, School Divisions, etc.) with a private sector internet service provider as a co-applicant. Eligible projects must be owned and operated by the private sector co-applicant. Publicly owned networks are eligible for the program when partnered with a private sector co-applicant, so long as the private sector applicant is serving as the customer-facing internet service provider.

Notwithstanding program requirements that applications include a private-sector internet service provider as the co-applicant, the Fiscal Year 2022 round of VATI will implement a one-year pilot program in which public broadband authorities may apply directly for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative funds without investment from the private sector. Such awards, in sum, shall not exceed 10 percent of total available VATI funds in FY2022. Applications submitted without a private sector co-applicant will be evaluated alongside other applications and thus are not guaranteed an award for any pilot projects.

Eligible Areas:

DHCD will award funding to applicants to provide last-mile services, including middle-mile networks, equipment, or other investments required to deliver last-mile service to unserved areas of the Commonwealth. Unserved areas are defined as having broadband speeds below 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Megabits (Mbps) upload. Areas lacking 10 Megabits per second download and 1 Megabits per second upload speeds will be given significant priority in application scoring.

- For a wireline project, a proposed project area is considered eligible if 10 percent or fewer of serviceable units have access to service with no special construction costs from any provider as of the date of the application.

- For a wireless project, a proposed area is considered eligible if 25 percent or fewer of serviceable units have access to service with no special construction costs from any provider as of the date of the application. Passings with RSSI below -90dbm are not eligible to be included in a VATI application.

For more details on eligible areas, see https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/Docx/vati/vati-guidelines-criteria-final.pdf#page=11.

Applicants are discouraged from submitting projects that focus on pockets of density while not including nearby unserved, less dense areas. This tactic, also known as cherry picking, hurts the economics of serving the remaining areas in your community and will ultimately make it more difficult and costly to get all Virginians access to broadband coverage.

Pre-proposal Conference:

June 17, 2-4 pm – VATI How-to-Apply Webinar

For more information, contact the Office of Broadband (see VATI email address in Contact Information below).

Pre-Application Information:

All applicants are required to issue a VATI Notice of Application detailing their intent to apply for VATI funding no later than July 27, 2021, at 5:00 p.m.

Proposals are to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on September 14, 2021. Please note that DHCD offices close at 5:00 p.m. Therefore, staff will not be available to provide CAMS technical assistance after 5:00 p.m.

Timeline:
- April 16 – Draft Guidelines Released for Opening of Public Comment Period
- April 27, 10 am-12 pm and May 4, 10 am-12 pm – Public Input Sessions on Draft Guidelines
- May 17 – Public Comment Period on Draft Guidelines Closes
- June 4 – DHCD releases Final Guidelines for the FY2022 VATI Round
- June 17, 2-4 pm – VATI How-to-Apply Webinar
- June 17 – Applications Open
- June 21-September 13 – VATI Technical Assistance and Project Development Sessions
- July 27 – Notice of Applications Due
- August 3 – DHCD Posts Notices of Application on VATI website
- September 14 – Applications Due
- September 21 – DHCD Posts Applications on VATI Website
- October 21 – Challenges Due
- October 28 – DHCD Notifies Challenged Applicants
- November 18 – Deadline for Challenge Rebuttals
- December 3 – DHCD Notifies All Parties of Challenge Determination
- Late December – Anticipated Announcement of Awards

Technical Assistance:
DHCD staff is available to provide technical assistance on the development of an application and during the challenge process to units of local government, internet service providers, grant writers, consultants, and all other VATI stakeholders. Please reach out to DHCD staff and consult the broadband toolkit available at http://www.commonwealthconnect.virginia.gov/broadband-toolkit prior to engaging a private consultant. DHCD staff strongly recommends engagement of technical assistance throughout project development.

DHCD recognizes that due to the nature of wireless projects having an inherent potential of overlap it is strongly encouraged that applicants contact DHCD staff for assistance.

Multiple Applications:
An applicant may submit one application with multiple service providers if the applicant can demonstrate how the providers are collaborating to achieve universal coverage for the locality or region. Service providers may submit an application with more than one unit of local government. Units of local government may submit multiple applications with different service providers and may include project areas that cross-jurisdictional boundaries. Multiple applications that when combined reach universal coverage in a county or region, will be awarded maximum points for universality when scored.

2022 VATI How to Apply Webinar Recording: https://youtu.be/UL5AMI3oJzk

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Applicants must submit a copy of the VATI Notice of Application to DHCD at: vati@dhcd.virginia.gov.

Additional guidance and questions regarding project development or about the VATI, guidelines and criteria should be directed to:

Tamarah Holmes, Ph.D. Director, Office of Broadband
tamarah.holmes@dhcd.virginia.gov
(804) 371-7056

Chandler Vaughan, Broadband Policy Analyst
chandler.vaughan@dhcd.virginia.gov
(804) 801-7124

VATI email address:
vati@dhcd.virginia.gov

Please refer questions regarding your application submittal through CAMS to vati@dhcd.virginia.gov.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Virginia

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