Middle mile grant applicants must address NTIA’s program priorities and IIJA statutory requirements outlined in the NOFO and prove that they’re capable of executing.
Addressing the prioritization criteria
Each applicant must make a binding commitment to prioritize at least one of the following via the funded middle mile network:
a. Connecting middle mile infrastructure to last mile networks that provide or plan to provide broadband service to households in unserved areas; or
b. Connecting non-contiguous trust lands; or
c. Offer wholesale broadband service at reasonable rates on a carrier-neutral basis.
Note: Grant recipients using fiber-optic technology must “offer interconnection in perpetuity, where technically feasible without exceeding current or reasonably anticipated capacity limitations, on reasonable rates and terms to be negotiated with requesting parties. Such interconnection must include both the ability to connect to the public internet and physical interconnection for the exchange of traffic.”
Providing a plan to NTIA for how you will attract, train, or retain an “appropriately skilled and credentialed” workforce.
Proving that you have the financial, managerial, technical and operational capability to carry out the proposed project and operate the resulting middle mile broadband network.
The Middle Mile Program will prioritize applications that meet at least two of the following five program priorities criteria:
1. The eligible entity adopts fiscally sustainable middle mile strategies.
2. The eligible entity commits to offering non-discriminatory interconnection to terrestrial and wireless last mile broadband providers and any other party making a bona fide request.
3. The eligible entity identifies specific terrestrial and wireless last mile broadband providers that have (i) expressed written interest in interconnecting with middle mile infrastructure planned to be deployed by the eligible entity; and (ii) demonstrated sustainable business plans or adequate funding sources with respect to such interconnection described in (i).
4. The eligible entity has identified supplemental investments or in-kind support (such as waived franchise or permitting fees) that will accelerate the completion of the planned project.
5. The eligible entity has demonstrated that the middle mile infrastructure will benefit national security interests of the United States and the Department of Defense.
Note: There are special rules for Tribes and Native Entities for waivers, alternative requirements and designation of tribal unserved and underserved areas. Please refer to page 14 of the Enabling Middle Mile Program NOFO.
Applicants should read the full NOFO and guidance documents for more in-depth instructions. They can be found here.
To prove you have the finances to fund the projects, grant applicants must provide the NTIA with a letter of credit and audited financial statements from the past three fiscal years.
To prove that you have the staff to competently manage the projects, grant applicants must provide the NTIA with the names and resumes of top management personnel, as well as subcontractors.
To prove you have the technical capabilities, grant applicants must submit maps, budgets, timelines and project milestones
The NTIA requires grant applicants to describe targeted last mile service objectives, and agreements and/or contracts with last mile providers, descriptions of proposed service offerings, including the pricing of the services to be offered. The agency also requires a certification attesting that you are technically qualified to complete and operate the proposed project.
To provide assurance that the grant applicant is capable of operating the proposed project, the NTIA requires an applicant’s officer-level employee to certify that the applicant has operated a middle mile broadband network for at least two years.