Idaho Greenlights $120 Million For 18 Broadband Projects

Idaho Broadband Advisory Board logo

The Idaho Broadband Advisory Board (BAB) has greenlit $120 million in broadband grants from the Idaho Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to fund 18 different broadband projects across Idaho, delivering affordable fiber access to 30,000 homes and businesses, many for the first time.

It’s the latest round of funding made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, passed in 2021 to help soften the impact of COVID. A breakdown of the finalized awards indicate 18 different providers received funding from BAB, including a $9.8 million award to Comcast and more than $11 million to Ziply Fiber.

“These awarded projects are another important step in furthering the Idaho Broadband Advisory Board’s mission of ensuring that all Idahoans have access to affordable and reliable internet,” Idaho Broadband Advisory Board Chair, Representative John Vander Woude said in a prepared statement. “These projects will connect homes and businesses across the entire State.”

Seven of the award recipients were individual counties pursuing varying options to shore up access to largely rural unserved and underserved residents.

Latah County Idaho

Latah County received $15 million to help fund its plan to push dark fiber into the long-neglected segments of the rural county. NTIA data indicates that 20 percent of rural Latah County lacks access to any broadband whatsoever, while the remainder has access to aging DSL service providing less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps).

Similarly, Camas County is receiving a $5 million reward to help fund its plan to deploy fiber to the county’s largely rural, 1,139 residents. Data indicates that 80 percent of Camas County residents lack access to broadband that meets the FCC’s already dated standard definition of broadband: 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream.

Idaho County received $11.5 million to help fund a large part of the county’s $14.5 million plan to help construct a 144 strand fiber backbone from Grangeville to Orofino. Lincoln County received $4 million to fund phase two of a fiber expansion plan and Gooding County received $7.5 million to fund a middle/last mile broadband project.

Rexburg Idaho in Madison County

Madison County received $13.6 million to help fund a public private partnership with FyberCom to deploy affordable broadband to 2,367 underserved addresses countywide, while Jerome County received $10.8 million to help expand fiber and fixed wireless access.

Awardees are expected to deploy broadband access at speeds of at least 100 Mbps (megabit per second) symmetrically.

“These grants are the culmination of months working together and engaging stakeholders, local communities and internet providers all across the State,” Idaho Broadband Program Manager Ramón Hobdey-Sánchez said of the awards.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the hard work and dedication my colleagues exemplified throughout this entire grant process and the impact they have all had on improving internet access for Idahoans.”

More than half a billion in requests were made for $120 million in funding, leaving many communities (like Ada County’s plan to build a $10 million fiber network) still clamoring to find financing. Some of those applicants may see a second chance courtesy of the $583 million in BEAD funding making its way to the state courtesy of the 2021 infrastructure bill.

Inline image of Entering Latah County sign courtesy of Ken Lund, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Inline image of Rexburg in Madison County courtesy of Ken Lund, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic