Planning and Developing Broadband in Washington State

By Paula Reeves, AICP, APA Legislative Committee Chair 

Public Works Board Funding Update

At their recent meeting, the Public Works Board (PWB) reported that state revenues have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels for 2019-21 and have increased for the 2021-23 biennium. The Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) revenues have surpassed their pre-pandemic levels for the 2019-21 and 2021-23 biennia. This legislative session, the legislature appropriated $14 million from the PWAA for broadband loans and $46 million in federal dollars for broadband grants. See PWB website for more information about funding cycles, etc.

It should be noted that the newly adopted State Capital Budget has introduced a new definition for “unserved area” for broadband as having a meaning of areas of Washington in which households and businesses lack access to broadband service of speeds at a minimum of 100 Mbps download and at a minimum of 20 Mbps upload speeds.

Broadband Grants

The PWB adopted new scoring criteria for the 2021 Broadband Funding Cycle. This includes the scoring criteria as follows:

  • Needs, Goals, and Impact, 30 points
  • Outreach and Engagement, 10 points
  • Planning Readiness and Feasibility, 45 points
  • Equity, Access, and Affordability, 15 points

The minimum score to meet the funding threshold is recommended to be 65. Additional PWB Broadband Scoring details can be found on the PWB website.

Statewide Broadband Planning Survey

In order to determine the unserved broadband need in Washington, the Public Works Board is seeking responses to the Statewide Broadband Planning Assessment Survey.  The survey will help the PWB plan focus to support and training efforts.

Complete the survey