Big Gig Challenge Grant FAQs

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These FAQs are also available to download as a print-friendly PDF.

1.    Who is eligible to apply?

Any entity (public or private) is eligible to apply for the Big Gig Grant, as long as the applicant applies in partnership with their local government (City or County). Applicants must be within OneCommunity’s Northeast Ohio service area. Eligible Counties: Ashland, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Ottawa, Portage, Richland, Sandusky, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne.

2. I live in California, can I apply?

No, only entities within OneCommunity’s Northeast Ohio service area may apply (see above).

3. Where can I find application details?

Visit for complete details on submitting a Letter of Intent.

4.    How many grant awards is OneCommunity planning to make?

Multiple grants may be awarded.  Each grant will fund up to 25% of the Total Project Costs.

5. Is there a cash prize?

No. Grant funding is for project costs only.

6.    How is grant funding awarded?

Grant award may include any combination of services, equipment.

7.    Will this be a re-occurring grant opportunity?

OneCommunity hopes to make this a yearly grant program

8.    What criteria will OneCommunity use to select award recipients?

The primary goal of the Challenge Grant is to spur creative, collaborative partnership approaches to building community fiber networks.  Additionally, projects that focus on economic growth are strongly desired.  Details on grant scoring can be found at

9. How specific do I need to be on the cost estimate in the LOI?

We are only looking for a ballpark figure on costs, specifically in order to help applicants determine their portion of total project costs.  OneCommunity’s team of design engineers is available to help with cost estimation on an as-needed basis.

10. Will the grant be a cost reimbursement?

It depends on the project. Our experience has shown that every municipal project will have very  different needs. We need to understand what OneCommunity’s role will be and then determine how the grant will be structured.

11. How detailed should the Letter of Intent be? Should we have pre-meetings with OneCommunity?

We want to understand what your vision is, who your partners are and how you hope to fund your share of project costs.  Other than these details, we encourage applicants to think big, be creative and give us your best ideas.   We are happy to set up calls before the submission deadline to help define those things.

12.    Who will review and score the proposals?

LOI responses will be reviewed and scored by a team of OneCommunity staff members and five finalists will be chosen to submit full proposals.  The five final proposals will be reviewed by OneCommunity’s executive staff, as well as a team of external industry partners.

13. Are there any federal grants available to help with funding?

Some rural communities may be eligible for grants from the federal government. Some school districts have the possibility of winning E-rate funding. The FTC is making some funding available to healthcare institutions to reimburse them for services, but that is not cash for the front end although it could help create the business case for the build.

14. You’re already servicing our community’s hospitals. Shouldn’t we piggy back on that investment?

Certainly. If you can leverage our existing fiber assets in your community, we encourage you to do so!

15. As applicants work on defining their projects and their communities role in owning/operating a network, what are some of the various services  that OneCommunity offers that could assist communities with this process?

We can be as involved as the community desires or the project requires. We can do ‘soup to nuts’ or just parts of a project. OneCommunity can:

  • construct a network
  • maintain and operate that network
  • function as a general contractor if you just want someone to oversee construction
  • advise on the type of network you want to build

We encourage applicants to reach out to us for a session to frame what you want to do.

16. It’s one thing to build a network. It’s another thing to provide the necessary support. That requires special equipment and trained personnel. Do you have a system in place for that?

Yes. Our Network Operations Center is located in Downtown Cleveland’s Playhouse Square and provides 24/7/365 service. Our highly experienced engineers provide support services for many of the cities and counties on our network, as well as all of our individual customers. We can either take phone calls and directly manage customers, or alternatively we can just provide after-hours service.  It’s up to the community to decide what level of service they require, but we absolutely have the capability and expertise to monitor and support network operations – it’s the core of our business!

17. How can I determine what fiber already exists in my community, if any?

OneCommunity will share our Google Earth map indicating our entire fiber path per request.  Additionally, our website ( features a tool that allows you to plug in an address and see how far the OneCommunity network is from your location.

18. What type of activities are successful in marketing fiber in the community?

Working with real estate developers and brokers to provide an understanding of fiber’s benefits will allow them to better market properties connected to or located near fiber.

19. Why does a community require Gigabit connectivity?  What are the benefits?

Much like the telephone, electricity and the Internet changed the world, Gigabit connectivity is spurring innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity in the ways we work, play and communicate.  OneCommunity’s digital infrastructure provides Northeast Ohio with a significant competitive advantage.  With over 2,000+ miles of high capacity, high speed fiber available and accessible to communities throughout the region, forward-thinking municipalities can capitalize on this asset and ensure their place on the cutting edge of the information revolution.

The community benefits of digital infrastructure investments include:

•    Ability to attract and retain high-tech businesses
•    Improved efficiency in government service delivery
•    Open data sharing that allows for innovation
•    Improved healthcare access for residents via tele-health, digital medical records, HealthSpot®, etc.
•    Connected education programming

20. Where can I get more information regarding community broadband?

A: Following are some resources and examples about community broadband projects:

Why Communities Can’t Sit on the Sidelines, by Joanne Hovis, President CTC Technologies and OneCommunity Board member. A call to action and links to a detailed position paper explaining the different paths communities have taken to implementing broadband infrastructure.

City of Chattanooga, TN. Dubbed the “Big-Gig City,” Chattanooga’s implementation of a community-wide, 1 Gigabit per second fiber optic network built and maintained by its public electric utility is an excellent example of “How did they do it!”

City of Lafayette, LA. The city’s 125,000 residents enjoy ultra-high speed broadband connectivity thanks to an 800-mile underground fiber optic network. See also US Today feature story: “Louisiana city blazes high-speed Web trail.”

Other Links of Interest:

Santa Monica, CA:

San Francisco, CA:

Santa Rosa, CA:

Austin, TX:

Bristol, VA:

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