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Frequently Asked Questions 

We will continue to update this page with more FAQ's, so please check back for additional information about the Gigabit Communities Challenge. Thank you for your interest.

How in-depth does the preliminary technical plan have to be?

Applicants should, at a minimum, outline the basic technical scope of the project (what kind of equipment will be used, who are potential network builders, where are the customers, etc.) and expect follow-up questions from reviewers.

How many users are impacted with a computer lab of 30 PCs in a location of over 1000 individuals (i.e. such as a college)?

This would be understood as 30 end-users – but remember that the mission of this competition is in part to deliver ultra-fast service to as many end-users as possible. The more individuals with gigabit connectivity, the better. One building with 1,000 devices sharing a single ultra-fast connection might be understood as “1,000 end users” – but it alone would not meet the goal of the Gigabit Communities Challenge.

Does the speed count if the user has access to 1 gigabit speed but only wants 100 MB speed?


What is CAI?

Community Anchor Institution; examples include public libraries, hospitals and park districts.

Is prevailing wage a requirement?

Prevailing wage does apply. Illinois' Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/0.01 et seq., applies to works constructed in whole or in part with public funds. The law requires that no less than the general prevailing rate of hourly wages for similar work be paid to "all laborers, workers and mechanics" engaged in the public work. A successful grantee will need to check with the Illinois Department of Labor for the current, applicable prevailing wages.

Which State agency will review applications and make the awards?

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO)

Can a coalition of a city, county, school district, hospital, and local businesses make a joint application?

Yes. In fact, such coalitions are encouraged as they demonstrate broad community support.

How important is the public-private partnership?

It is not a requirement, but it is encouraged.

Do we need to provide a network map with the application?

Applicants are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible. For instance, network topology with diagrams or tables including end user nodes, network access points, and other distinct network elements.

How is "end-user" defined?

End user refers to households or institutions (actual sites) connected to ultra-fast broadband service.

When you say 1,000 end-users do you mean 1,000 total for the entire state or 1,000 per community?

1,000 for the community.

Does the 1,000 end users requirement mean users passed or users taking services?

Users passed.

Would the expectation be that 1 gig speed would be available to all 1,000+ customers 24/7?


Is the term gigabit meant to be per user?


If a home has five people living in it, but only one internet capable device, does this count as 5 end users or 1?

This would count as one.

Is the 1,000 end users by community or project if the application covers more than one community?

A single proposal can span multiple cities, villages or towns.

Would it be favorable to work with the BTOP grants in the State of Illinois?

Yes, we support leveraging other broadband efforts – those that have been funded privately or publicly.

Is there a recommended delivery medium, i.e. fiber, copper, wireless?


Are there open access requirements or other obligations in that vein?


Have any speed thresholds been defined for "Ultra High Broadband?"


Is this directed at "last mile" / "end user" applications to deliver "gigabit" products/services rather than "middle mile" services?

Not necessarily.

In a given community/population, who decides which end-users get service?

Each applicant should determine which end-users will become part of the network.

Will there be/what will be the test with the final turn up at the end of 2013 to show at least 1,000 customers have access to 1 Gig?

Yes – DCEO will verify with any award winner that projects deliver on the services promised in proposals.

How will job creation impact will be evaluated?

For the purposes of this challenge, job creation will be measured solely by the activity resulting directly from construction and development of this project. We are not asking for what jobs (or how many) will be created as a result of having access to ultra high-speed broadband.

Is there an expectation of a minimum number of jobs that should be created per 1,000 end users?

No, but applicants should at a minimum project the number of jobs created from the construction of this network.

Will projects that create broadband availability in areas currently not served be weighted more heavily than those that expand or modify services in areas currently with access?

Not necessarily. The focus is on project viability, the most feasible of which may require expanding or modifying services in areas currently with access.

I may have multiple government partners, but no private partners. Is that likely to be considered for funding?

If the applicant can show the project is viable and the government entities have the capacity to build it without assistance from the private sector, then it will receive the same level of consideration as other projects.

Will the grant funds be distributed to just one project or spread over multiple projects?

We will choose multiple awardees.

If I win, is the network mine or am I just a steward of the operation?

It is yours.

Do I have to declare intended services and prices on the application?


What is the contract term?

Up to two years.

How are funds dispersed and what happens if we can't complete the project as planned?

Grants are authorized in full, but specific grant agreement terms and conditions will be negotiated with each individual grantee and may vary from one project to the next. Part or all of the grant may be subject to repayment to DCEO within the time frame outlined in the grant agreement if the grantee: a) fails to complete the project as committed, b) fails to secure the level of leverage necessary to reflect equal matching funds between project cost and grant funds through this program, or c) fails to meet other milestones or goals resulting in an Event of Default under the grant agreement.

Will you consider proposals that include new designs?