Connect New Mexico Pilot Program
Connect New Mexico Pilot Program
Announcements and Press Releases
Mapping Review Process
The New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion (OBAE) is currently reviewing Wave 3 Connect New Mexico Pilot Program applications. The review process consists of two distinct but complementary tracks: a) merit review that applies a scoring rubric to assess strengths and weaknesses of the applications; b) mapping review that closely examines the eligibility of the proposed projects’ service area.
This webinar serves to: 1) walk through the map of Wave Three projects; 2) address the process and approach to filing a challenge. The webinar will be held on May 16, 2023, at 12:00 pm MT.
We look forward to your participation!
The mapping review ensures that an applicant’s proposed funded service areas only involve unserved or underserved areas. This process includes publishing all proposed funded service areas in an open and interactive map, the Mapping Review Map. The process invites feedback from incumbent broadband providers, fellow applicants, and other stakeholders – including the general public and potential customers – regarding the eligibility of all proposed projects.
Applicants have an opportunity to review the proposed funded service area and challenge the eligibility of a grant application based on currently available broadband service or near-term planned broadband deployment. Specifically, the challenger would provide evidence that the area is already served, or will soon be, by wireline broadband networks offering speeds greater than 100/20 Mbps.
This deadline to provide feedback is May 26, 2023 (5 p.m. MDT). Information to this end should be submitted to email@example.com with the subject heading “Mapping Review: Project ID”
SANTA FE- This legislative session Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state Office of Broadband Access and Expansion (OBAE) pursued legislation to create smoother pathways for the development of broadband infrastructure in order to facilitate better, faster Internet for all New Mexicans. Due to modern advancements in technology outpacing state laws and regulations, OBAE developed a legislative package intended to break down inherent barriers through changes to existing statutes. It was a successful session for broadband initiatives, for which a slate of bills passed both houses, and the legislation was signed into law by the governor.
According to Broadband Director Kelly Schlegel, “In the several months since my appointment, it’s become imminently clear that the key to making universal broadband a reality in New Mexico is breaking down some of the systemic barriers that exist in the form of complicated Rights of Way processes, cumbersome, multilayered grants procedures, and limitations on the state’s ability to procure services for critical infrastructure projects. We are exceedingly grateful to Governor Lujan Grisham and the legislators who spearheaded the successful passage of our legislative agenda, which gives us the tools to overcome some of these challenges.”
The pro-broadband legislative package signed into law by Governor Lujan Grisham included the following bills:
- House Bill 160 Broadband Infrastructure (Representative Chandler, Representative Figueroa and Senator Padilla) – gives the State Transportation Commission discretion to waive Rights of Way fees for installation of infrastructure for the public good, to provide broadband Internet services to unserved or underserved locations as defined in the Connect New Mexico Act. The legislation removes obstacles for smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to be able to commit to projects that may not be otherwise economically feasible.
- House Bill 232 Disclosure of Certain Info (Representatives Sarinana, Lord, and Block and Senator Ivey-Soto) — HB 232 aids OBAE in the broadband grant making process by establishing the confidentiality of certain grant application materials until the grant making process is complete, thereby ensuring a fair competitive process.
- House Bill 262 Transfer Connect New Mexico Program (Representatives Garratt, Sarinana & Figueroa) – implements Subsection H of the New Mexico Constitution Article 9, Section 14 (Anti-donation Clause) by authorizing OBAE to use Connect New Mexico Fund (CNMF) appropriations to grant awards to private entities for broadband infrastructure to provide service primarily for residential purposes. The bill transfers responsibility to OBAE to develop grant programs using CNMF appropriations and authorizes grant programs that promote any objective of the state broadband plan.
- Senate Bill 155 Use of Telecomm Fund for Broadband (Senators Sanchez and Padilla, Representative Sarinana) – Amends the Rural Telecommunications Act of New Mexico to require the PRC to hold rates static for three-years and increases the maximum size of the State Rural Universal Service Fund for broadband purposes to $30 million after December 31, 2026.
- Senate Bill 452 Broadband Changes (Senator Padilla) – among other changes, amends the DoIT Act to allow the secretary and OBAE to utilize the department’s established rates on a competitively neutral basis to provide internet service in order to connect underserved and unserved populations of New Mexico. Requires OBAE to follow an open process to identify unserved and underserved areas, while allowing for fair competition by private entities who would agree to provide service in unserved and underserved areas. With the exception of Tribes and Pueblos, the bill also requires all facilities-based providers to report semiannually to the broadband office each year on or before March 1 or September 1 depending on the data source in the same format as reported to the Federal Communications Commission. The bill delineates that all information reported by a facilities-based provider is critical infrastructure security-sensitive data for which the broadband office shall maintain confidentiality in accordance with applicable state and federal law.
Each of the newly enacted laws take effect on July 1, 2023.
As part of the Wave Two awards announcement, OBAE, in partnership with grant recipients, have planned celebratory events in the following communities, for which the media is invited:
- AWARDEE — Tularosa Communications
Addressing the broadband needs of unserved and underserved residents of West Alamogordo, Bent and Sun Valley
Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 1:00 PM
503 St. Francis Dr.
Tularosa, NM 88352
- AWARDEE – Valley Telecom
Serving Columbus and the region
Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 11:00 AM
Health & Wellness Community Complex
100 E. North Boundary
Columbus, NM 87108
- AWARDEE – Western New Mexico Telephone Company
Serving Silver City, Gila Hot Springs, Mimbres, and Lake Roberts
Friday, March 31, 2023
Time & Location to be announced
- AWARDEE – SWC Telesolutions
Serving West Gallup and Thoreau
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Time & Location to be announced
The Connect New Mexico Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”) aims to bridge the digital divide and foster socioeconomic progress by providing infrastructure grants for broadband deployment to unserved and underserved communities across New Mexico.
Funding for the Pilot Program is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature, through House Bill 2, appropriated $123,066,812 from the Capital for expenditure by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) in fiscal years 2022 through 2025 to “plan, design, construct, renovate and equip broadband, including alternative and satellite broadband, statewide.”
Senate Bill 93 established the New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion (“Office of Broadband”) to coordinate state and local broadband efforts. The Office of Broadband is administratively attached to DoIT.
Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
The NOFO formally establishes the funding opportunity for the Connect New Mexico Pilot Program. Please review the NOFO to learn about the program purpose, eligibility factors (e.g., project types, service areas, entities), allowable expenditures, key performance requirements (e.g., network performance, service offerings), evaluation criteria, and compliance requirements.
The Scoring Guide provides a detailed overview of the selection criteria. The Scoring Guide identifies the specific categories and consideration factors by which applications will be evaluated. The Scoring Guide aims to provide a methodical, structured approach to comprehensively and consistently evaluate applications and select the most promising applications.
The Application comprises of several questions and other information requests. The Application must be fully completed. Otherwise, the Application will be determined incomplete and not be reviewed.
Interactive Broadband Map
The Interactive Broadband Map delineates unserved and undeserved areas. Areas not designated as unserved or underserved may still be eligible for funding if the Applicant can provide fact-based evidence that the proposed funded service area meet the Pilot Program’s definition of unserved or underserved. Please see the NOFO regarding the official definition of unserved and underserved.
Frequently Asked Questions
The FAQ aims to answer commonly asked questions. This FAQ will be posted soon based on feedback received from participants and other stakeholders.
Webinars and Technical Assistance
- Mapping Review Process, Tuesday May 16 Link to webinar PDF slides→, Link to webinar PP slides →
- FCC Map Challenge Webinar, Friday, September 23. Link to webinar →
- Application Intake Portal Overview, Thursday, September 15, 12:00 PM DMT. Webinar slides coming soon…
- Interactive Broadband Map Overview, Tuesday, August 23, 12:00 PM MDT, presented by the EDAC team. Link to webinar slides →
- Scoring Guide Overview, Monday, August 22, 12:00 PM MDT. Link to webinar slides →
- Application Overview, Friday, August 19, 12:00 PM MDT. Link to webinar slides →
- Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Overview, Wednesday, August 17, 12:00 PM MDT. Link to webinar slides →
The New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion (OBAE) is currently reviewing Wave 1 Connect New Mexico Pilot Program applications. The review process consists of two distinct, but complementary tracks: merit review that applies a scoring rubric to assess strengths and weaknesses of all applications; and mapping review that closely examines proposed project service area eligibility.
The mapping review is designed to ensure that all Pilot Program projects are focused on unserved or underserved areas of New Mexico. This process includes publication of all Pilot Program proposed project service areas and project descriptions in an open and interactive map, the Mapping Review Map. The process invites feedback from incumbent broadband providers, fellow applicants, and other stakeholders – including the general public and potential customers – regarding the eligibility of all proposed projects.
Before Pilot Program grants are awarded, applicants will have an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the New Mexico Broadband Map – that is, if areas designated as served, unserved, or underserved are appropriately classified. Likewise, incumbent broadband providers and others will be allowed to challenge the eligibility of a grant application on the basis of currently available broadband service or near-term planned broadband deployment.
Between now and 5pm on Friday, October 21, we’re asking New Mexico broadband stakeholders to reconcile these mapping layers against their own broadband service data and/or deployment plans. For instance, should any area of the map include a proposed Pilot Program project AND understate existing service levels, we want to hear about it!
Incumbent providers can offer OBAE with shapefiles and/or specific location addresses that have demonstrated wireline service at or above the program eligibility threshold of 100/20 Mbps. Information to this end should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Mapping Review: [and the unique project ID].”
The mapping review process begins a conversation between OBAE and the Pilot Program stakeholder. No awards will be made without an opportunity for dialogue on the mapping and service levels in question. OBAE is committed to making this process as user-friendly and transparent as reasonably possible, and we intend to learn and apply what we can from the processes introduced during the Pilot Program to the full Connect New Mexico Broadband Grant Program. To this end, we welcome all feedback as we seek to improve and refine this process moving forward.