RS 51:2370.4     

§2370.4. Applications; burden of proof; public comment; protest

            A. Applications for grants shall be submitted at times designated by the director and may include, at a minimum, the following information:

            (1) An attestation to the office that the proposed project area is eligible.

            (2) The identity of the applicant and its qualifications and experience with deployment of broadband.

            (3) The estimated total cost and duration of the project.

            (4) The amount to be funded by the applicant.

            (5) An illustration or description of the area to be served, identifying the number of residential and commercial locations that will have access to broadband as a result of the project, including any available addresses, or other identifying information satisfactory to the office, for the foregoing. In the event that the office is unable to identify the proposed project area with specificity, the office may require the applicant to submit additional information. If construction of the proposed project would result in the provision of broadband service to areas that are not eligible for funding, those ineligible areas should be identified in the application along with the eligible areas.

            (6) An assessment of the current level of broadband access in the proposed deployment area.

            (7) The proposed estimated construction timeline.

            (8) A description of the broadband service to be provided, including the proposed upstream and downstream broadband speeds to be delivered and any applicable data caps.

            (9) Any other information or supplementary documentation requested by the office.

            (10) A plan to encourage users to connect that incorporates, at a minimum, multimedia advertising and marketing programs.

            (11) For the proposed area to be served, the infrastructure cost per location for the project.

            (12) Evidence of support for the project from citizens, local government, businesses, or institutions in the community.

            (13) The proposed advertised speed to be marketed to end users, and the projected cost to the consumer to utilize the service at the projected speed.

            (14) An explanation of the scalability of the broadband infrastructure to be deployed for higher broadband speeds in the future.

            B. A provider submitting an application pursuant to this Section shall bear the burden of proof that the proposed area to be served can, to the best of his knowledge in fact, be served using the proposed technology and that the area is, as of the close of the application deadline, unserved.

            C.(1) Applications shall be made publicly available, subject to the confidentiality protections provided in this Part, by posting on the website of the office or the website of the division of administration for a period of at least thirty days prior to award. Following the announcement of awards, any aggrieved party may submit a protest of any award in accordance with R.S. 51:2370.5, specific to whether a location or area is served or unserved by a broadband service, which shall be the sole reason allowable for the submission of a protest. Protests shall be submitted in writing, accompanied by all relevant supporting documentation, and shall be considered by the office in connection with the review of the award. Upon submission of evidence to the office that the proposed project area includes prospective broadband recipients that are served, the office may work with an applicant to amend an award to reduce the number of unserved prospective broadband recipients in the project area to reflect an accurate level of current broadband service. The office may revise application scores in accordance with amended applications. The office shall not grant funds to an applicant who submits an application that does not comply with program requirements. For awards with filed protests, the director shall issue a written decision to the protesting party within fifteen days after receipt of a protest. Following a protest that is granted for a portion of the award, the office shall release to an applicant the locations or areas declared ineligible. Any provider submitting a protest shall attest that the information in the protest is accurate and that the protest is submitted in good faith. The office may deny any protest or application that contains inaccurate information.

            (2) Repealed by Acts 2022, No. 288, §3.

            (3) The office shall treat any information submitted with a protest that is not publicly available as confidential and subject to the trade secrets protections of state law upon a challenging provider's request for confidential treatment.

            Acts 2021, No. 477, §1, eff. July 1, 2021; Acts 2022, No. 288, §§2, 3.