top of page

Government Funding Is Poised To Excel The Cellular Industry In 2024

Updated: Jun 5

The world is more reliant on connectivity with each passing year, and 2024 will be no exception. However, developing or improving cellular infrastructure—whether outdoor or indoor coverage—is increasingly expensive yet undeniably essential. Particularly within commercial and educational facilities, the advancements of in-building wireless technologies, such as distributed antenna systems (DAS), will play a pivotal role in defining the future communication landscape. Fortunately, government-led wireless funding opens doors for both wireless providers and businesses to invest in resources that will improve cellular coverage for people everywhere.

The past year has been notably impactful in this area, thanks to several grants targeting wireless provider research, education systems, and rural inhabitants. The funding opportunities help paint a clear picture of the type of cellular connectivity growth we can expect in 2024.

Too often, grants can fly under the radar of those who really need them, so I want to call attention to the most prominent ones poised to increase competition and resiliency.

Supporting Industry Development And Research

Empowering experts to advance technology within the wireless industry, various governmental departments have allocated funds for industry players to conduct research and bolster new and improved networks.

The Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, allocated by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), aims to aid the creation of open and interoperable wireless networks to help ensure that the future of wireless equipment is built in the U.S. Created in part by the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America agenda, the NTIA has already allocated over $18 million of the funds worth $1.5 billion total to seven different projects across six states focusing on research and development and testing and evaluation. The remaining funding will be awarded over the next 10 years.

While the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund enables established groups to research and develop technology, the National Science Foundations’ Americas Seed Fund for Wireless Technologies opens opportunities for USA-owned businesses smaller than 500 employees. The program allows these companies to earn up to $2 million in seed funding and welcomes proposals involving technologies under the following categories: communication and networking, networked sensors and sensing, wireless devices and components and wireless systems. This fund is a rolling application, so companies may submit pitches at any time.

Improving The Connection In Education Systems

The rise in school violence and the growing prevalence of digital communication in educational systems has created a pressing need for adequate wireless funding to implement these technologies and keep students safe.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance endorsed the Stop School Violence Act, aiming to proactively address and curb violence within educational institutions. Complementing this legislation, the Student, Teacher and Officers Preventing School Violence Program (STOP) was established. This initiative allocates annual grants to schools across county, local, territorial and tribal jurisdictions, facilitating the implementation of evidence-based programs and cutting-edge technologies. The primary goal is to enhance schools' capabilities to identify, respond promptly to and prevent acts of violence. Notably, the funds provided can be utilized for deploying technological solutions that streamline communication in emergencies such as ERCES (emergency radio communications enhancement systems). This grant reopens for application each fiscal year.

Another grant that enables schools to allocate funds for the advancement of cellular technology is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). Established to counteract and alleviate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, ESSER specifically addresses the pandemic's impact on students' social, emotional, mental health and academic needs. The initiative encompasses endeavors to improve communication reliability and response mechanisms. Although the deadline for applying for these funds has passed, school districts approved for ESSER II or III still have until September 2024 and January 2025, respectively, to allocate funds for passive or active DAS that provide first responder connectivity in schools.

Creating Connectivity Where It's Most Needed

While industry-specific funding support is important, facilitating widespread coverage across large areas proves advantageous for the entire community and helps stave off the digital divide that threatens to grow wider with each passing year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, administers the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans & Loan Guarantees program, which aims to aid service providers. These include state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, non-profits and for-profit businesses championing network access in rural areas. Although not a full grant, the program extends cost-of-money loans, loan guarantees via the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) and hardship loans directly from the USDA Rural Utilities Service.

In addition to supporting rural areas nationwide, many states are now allocating additional funds to enhance connectivity within their regions. For instance, New York has empowered counties to enhance land mobile radio (LMR) interoperability for public safety agencies, while Missouri is dedicated to enhancing access to quality cellular service, emphasizing grants that support the construction of new cellular towers. As these initiatives are implemented in smaller, specific areas, it is crucial for those seeking improved connectivity to be aware of programs available in their respective regions.

There are more government-led grants and financial opportunities than ever before aimed at advancing cellular connectivity and improving in-building wireless. Whether through research or increased implementation, we can anticipate a positive growth trajectory in 2024 and beyond.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page