The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted with stark contrast the critical necessity of broadband to support telework, economic activity, education, and health care and to support businesses and communities under many circumstances. Broadband is a critical utility and economic tool that will enable and foster the needed economic recovery in New Mexico over the coming months and years as the pandemic runs its course and beyond.

DoIT will host two sessions on 15 and 16 September 2021 with New Mexico broadband stakeholders to launch the NM Technical Assistance Program. The goals of these sessions are to:

  • Provide an overview of federal funding opportunities available to municipalities, communities, and service providers that may assist with funding broadband development in New Mexico
  • Share information on recent legislation impacting broadband policy in the state
  • Share information about the technical assistance program including the Request For Information (RFI) process and services offered
  • Engage stakeholders regarding broadband needs and where technical assistance will be impactful
  • Additional Information:

In its quest to increase the availability of broadband services for New Mexico residents and businesses, the State of New Mexico Department of Information Technology applied for a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, the result of which is the New Mexico Broadband Technical Assistance Program (NM TAP) The overwhelming number of letters of support from government, private, and non-profit organizations for the grant application in support of this program indicates wide endorsement.

This document provides a description and guidelines for the NM TAP based on the framework architecture for the program as outlined in the EDA grant. The NM TAP will help communities in the areas of greatest need throughout the State of New Mexico accelerate their recovery from the COVID-19 disaster by:

  1. Providing technical assistance to qualified government entities including tribal government, utility coops, companies, non-profits, and communities who are seeking to deploy or expand broadband infrastructure and/or services. This will enable the critical areas mentioned above to explore, expand, and diversify their economic capabilities under any circumstances in this new reality. It will also support entities who have not explored broadband planning, deployment, or expansion efforts because the burden is too great.

  2. Laying the groundwork for communities to build broadband infrastructure which will create jobs for the construction of the network(s).

  3. Enabling community businesses and residents to conduct business more efficiently and/or work from home as well as helping them to compete for high-quality jobs.

  4. Diversifying the economies within the communities. Adequate broadband would allow these communities to engage in businesses, education, and research in areas that they were not able to with poor or nonexistent access to the internet.

  5. Attracting workers whose employers have embraced work from home and/or who may be looking to relocate to safe, remote areas during these times.

  6. Supporting the expansion of broadband for existing industries in the State including oil and gas, aerospace, and agriculture.

The criticality of broadband to the life of New Mexicans has never been more apparent. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband internet access had become foundational to economic activity, political and civic engagement, education, healthcare, and delivery of public services. Given the crisis, the critical necessity of broadband to support telework, economic activity, education, and health care has only grown; broadband will be a valuable enabler of economic recovery in New Mexico.

We believe the NM TAP will produce the insights and data that the recipient organizations need to build their broadband planning and deployment capacity. In addition to spurring economic development, these efforts will have an enormous impact on alleviating current connectivity challenges and providing a foundation for resilience against future crises. This program will leverage New Mexico’s work over the last decade to improve broadband; support and facilitate private-sector investment in broadband; help schools and public safety facilities have world class access to broadband; and lay the groundwork for solving New Mexico’s rural broadband challenges comprehensively over time.

Based on the available funding from the EDA, DoIT proposes to assist 12 to 15 New Mexico communities or organizations over the next two years—providing each with a custom-designed set of services. The NM TAP elements are summarized here.

  1. Create Program Guidelines and Provide Outreach The program guidelines will document the program elements in detail and provide guidance for DoIT to execute the program. Planned outreach includes interactive on-line sessions for internet service providers (ISP) and broadband stakeholders in New Mexico, a webinar sharing details on current broadband-related federal funding opportunities, and additional individual sessions with ISPs or stakeholders to discuss the program and gain an understanding of needs.

  2. Develop and Release a Request for Information (RFI) to Potential Assistance Recipients; Review Responses Develop an appropriate vehicle inviting eligible entities in New Mexico to respond seeking assistance. If needed, there will be two cycles of procurement during the three years of the program (as shown on the program schedule included in this application).

  3. Provide Services to Recipient Organizations Each organization seeking assistance represents a unique community and will need varying levels of support to develop planning. The following outlines the activities recipient organizations may receive (based on each organization’s need) with the goal of developing a viable broadband plan:

    • Assist recipient organizations to identify and engage stakeholders and non-physical assets
    • Educate community leaders
    • Assess the recipient communities’ current broadband infrastructure and market
    • Evaluate current and future demand for broadband (needs assessment)
    • Prepare a high-level design and cost estimate for broadband deployment
    • Evaluate funding options and develop strategic approaches to acquire needed funding
    • Prepare Broadband Strategic Planning Guidebook

Links: Coming soon to include the Request for Information