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ICYMI: Florida DEO Office of Broadband Hosts Broadband Opportunity Program Rulemaking Workshops, Another Step in Shaping the Future of Broadband in Florida

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ICYMI: Florida DEO Office of Broadband Hosts Broadband Opportunity Program Rulemaking Workshops, Another Step in Shaping the Future of Broadband in Florida 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) Office of Broadband recently hosted three regional workshops to receive community input on rulemaking for the implementation of the Broadband Opportunity Program. This first-of-its-kind program will provide $400 million in funding for eligible entities to install or deploy broadband Internet infrastructure in unserved Florida communities, providing valuable telehealth, economic, educational, and workforce development opportunities to offer a brighter future for all Floridians.
 
The regional rulemaking workshops were held in three communities throughout the state: Bartow in Polk County on August 22, Milton in Santa Rosa County on August 25, and Moore Haven in Glades County on August 29, 2022. More than 150 individuals – from community members and local government representatives to internet service providers and other community stakeholders – gathered to provide insight on the Broadband Opportunity Program for the effective, sustainable expansion of high-speed broadband Internet infrastructure across the state of Florida. 
 
“The regional workshops on rulemaking for the Broadband Opportunity Program were a great success, and our team appreciates the collaborative efforts of community stakeholders in assisting DEO with the development of the program," DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said. “We look forward to continuing to work with Florida communities to expand broadband infrastructure for a more connected economy to create jobs, provide telehealth, and broaden educational opportunities for Floridians.”  
 
In addition to the draft rule, DEO accepted public comment on the draft application and the draft scoring criteria for the program. The public comment period ended on August 31, 2022. DEO has received a total of 54 public comments in-person and in-writing regarding the administration of the program.
 
Some of the insights and recommendations received include: 
  • Use of multiple broadband Internet technologies for the scalability and longevity of those technologies. 
  • Funding availability for Florida's rural communities. 
  • Clarifications on an award match and the award cap.
  • Alignment of applications for the Broadband Opportunity Program with the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband. 
  • Sustainability of the projects and their infrastructure. 
  • Guidance on project areas. 
  • Recommended changes to the application scoring criteria. 
  • Involvement of the Local Technology Planning Teams and private partners for the Broadband Opportunity Program. 
 
DEO is reviewing the feedback received for the implementation of the program. As available information and resources regarding the Broadband Opportunity Program and other DEO Office of Broadband initiatives become available, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org/Broadband
 
Please see the event highlights below: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Representatives in Polk County welcome community stakeholders to the Broadband Opportunity Program rulemaking workshop in Bartow on August 22, 2022. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DEO team member, Kiwanis Curry, presents information on the Broadband Opportunity Program and the rulemaking process to community stakeholders in Santa Rosa County.  
 
 
 
DEO Deputy Secretary of Community Development, Ben Melnick, and DEO Office of Broadband team member, Kiwanis Curry, welcome attendees to the Santa Rosa County rulemaking workshop for the Broadband Opportunity Program on August 25.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Community members and stakeholders actively participate in DEO's Broadband Opportunity Program rulemaking workshop in Glades County. 
 
 
 
 
 
Additional Broadband Efforts
 
 
 
  • In July 2020, the Florida Office of Broadband was established within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) Division of Community Development to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state. The amendment of Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, and creation of Sections 288.9962 and 288.9963, Florida Statutes, provides DEO access to federal grant dollars and assists rural communities with the expansion of broadband services, as well as provides directives for broadband mapping and the Broadband Opportunity Program.  
 
  • During Florida’s 2021 Legislative session, House Bill 1239 passed and provided an allocation of $1.5 million to develop geographic information system (GIS) maps of Florida’s currently availability of broadband internet service.  
 
  • In January and February 2021, DEO partnered with the Florida Regional Councils Association to host 10 virtual workshops where participants discussed broadband internet accessibility. Industry sector and community leaders within each region were invited to participate. These industry sectors included education, healthcare, private business, community organizations, agriculture, tourism, parks and recreation, economic development, local governments and internet service providers.
 
  • In September 2021, DEO launched the Local Technology Planning Team initiative was launched using the Broadband Planning Toolkit developed by the Office of Broadband. Local Technology Planning Teams are tasked with working within their communities to understand their current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers, and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the community. 
 
  • In December 2021, DEO published Florida’s Broadband Availability Map to identify where broadband-capable networks exist; where service is available to end users, gaps in rural areas, and download and upload speeds. DEO continues to collect data from Floridians on their availability and accessibility of broadband Internet to be added to the map through its Broadband Internet Speed Test. 
 
  • In June 2022, DEO published the Faster Florida Broadband Map, which identifies census blocks as unserved, underserved, served, and no fixed internet service as defined in Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes. The map also identifies Florida geographic boundaries, community anchor institutions, grant funding opportunities, and information on the speed tests taken through the Florida Broadband Availability Map.
 
  • In June 2022, DEO submitted the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate. The Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband lays out the vision of the Office of Broadband, the roles for state and local participants, and the strategies to undertake as Florida works toward a fully connected citizenry, both economically and socially.
 
  • In August 2022, DEO hosted three regional workshops (Bartow in Polk County on August 22, Milton in Santa Rosa County on August 25, and Moore Haven in Glades County on August 29, 2022) to receive community input on rulemaking for the implementation of the $400 million Broadband Opportunity Program. 
 
 
 
 
About DEO
 
 
 
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce, and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org.
 
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Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 107 E. Madison Street Tallahassee, FL 32399 | 850.245.7110 media@deo.myflorida.com | www.FloridaJobs.org
 
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