9+ Telecom, Broadband and Telehealth Funding Opportunities You Need on Your Radar in 2018

 

2018 is less than one month away, are you prepared for network funding opportunities in the New Year?

With 2018 quickly approaching, it’s important for all rural healthcare IT teams across the country to not only analyze their current broadband networks and needs but make sure they’re aware and prepared for upcoming deadlines for various funding programs to help fund any telecom service changes.

As a service provider that exclusively serves rural healthcare, we at TeleQuality know just how critical funding programs and opportunities can be for those looking to maintain or upgrade their broadband and Internet services for EHR access, telehealth, and more.

Let’s breakdown requirements and deadlines for some of the top funding programs below so you and your IT team can make the best funding decisions for your organization in 2018.  


USF Rural Health Care (RHC) Program  

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The Rural Health Care (RHC) program is one of the four Universal Service Fund (USF) programs dedicated to providing telecom support across the country. Funding is managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), an independent, not-for-profit corporation designated by the FCC to administer support for all four programs.

The RHC program:

  • Allocates $400 million annually to ensure rural health care providers can obtain reduced rates on their telecom and Internet services no matter their location
  • Funds any telecommunications service which is used primarily for the provision of healthcare
  • Consists of two programs- the Telecommunications Program and the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF)

The RHC’s funding year timeline runs from July-June every year. Funding Year 2018, which runs from July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019, has one filing window from February 1-May 31. This filing window is a fixed period of time when all funding requests received are treated as though they were received at the same time.

If you have been previously involved in the program or are looking to file for the first time, TeleQuality strongly encourages you to file your request during this filing window to ensure your organization has the best chance of having your telecom services funded.

 

2018 Calendar Year Timeline

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As the chart above shows, the calendar year and funding years are on different schedules, so it is critical that all applicants or expected applicants understand the timeline in detail.  

Interested in applying but not sure what the next steps are? Follow these three steps to get your organization on the path to broadband funding.

  1. Determine your eligibility using these three easy steps. Visit the RHC Program eligibility page to help you answer the following:
    1. Is your healthcare organization one of the eligible health care provider types?
    2. Is your healthcare organization a not-for-profit or public entity?
    3. Is your healthcare organization located in an FCC-approved rural location? Use this rural search tool for this determination.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the funding year deadlines and important dates (graphic shown above) for Funding Year 2018. Funding Year 2018 runs July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.
  3. Set up a time to file the appropriate paperwork so your organization doesn’t miss out on 2018 Funding!

 Still have further questions about the funding program, eligibility, deadlines, etc.? Contact USAC’s Rural Health Care department at rhc-assist@usac.org or call (202) 776-0200.  

Program Update: The FCC recently issued an NPRMO to immediately increase the $400 million annual cap for Funding Year 2017, and to create a framework for raising the cap in future years. The FCC is expected to vote on this NPRMO this Thursday during their December Open Meeting. Read details on the Order here.


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 USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Program

Looking into funding programs that will help you afford technologies and installation costs for the transition to telehealth? The USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Technologies like video conferencing tools and telemedicine carts can have life-saving results, but many health care providers have difficulty funding these technology upgrades.

USDA DLT Grants can be used for:

  • Acquisition of eligible capital assets, such as:
    • Audio, video and interactive video equipment
    • Terminal and data terminal equipment
    • Computer hardware, network components
    • Inside wiring and similar infrastructure that further DLT services
  • Acquisition of instructional programming that is a capital asset
  • Acquisition of technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment

Who can apply? Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or health care through telecommunications, including:

  • Most State and local governmental entities
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Non-profits
  • For-profit businesses
  • Consortia of eligible entities

To view previous award recipients, click here.

Although the application window is currently closed, the program typically opens up for application in the spring and will end in the summer. See this press release on last year’s application window and the 2017 DLT Application Guide for reference.

Still have further questions about the funding program, eligibility, deadlines, etc.? View this fact sheet and contact the USDA at:


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If you are looking to get more from your broadband services, call us today and we can work on a design that allows for the biggest bandwidth bang for your funded dollar. We’ll work with you and ensure your organization is up-to-speed with the best and most reliable broadband products there are, even in your most remote and rural locations.

Contact us today and one of our friendly associates will help you get started on the path to a faster, more efficient telecommunications network.