The following information is for historical purposes only.
PTFP no longer accepts applications.

Nonbroadcast Planning Applications


Introduction Preparing a Planning Grant Applications
Responding to the Evaulation Criteria
  (for Nonbroadcast Planning Applications
The Applicant Qualifications Criterion
The Project Objectives Criterion
The Urgency Criterion
The Planning Qualifications Criterion
The Financial Qualifications Criterion
The Involvement of Women and Minorities Criterion


Planning—as applied to public telecommunications facilities—is defined in the PTFP Final Rules as “activities to form a project for which PTFP construction funds may be obtained” (§2301.2). PTFP awards nonbroadcast Planning Grants under Special Applications.

Planning projects may have a number of purposes. A project might examine the feasibility of establishing or expanding a nonbroadcast facility. Or, it might determine how a nonbroadcast system might best be configured. Or, it might do all of these things. As a result, a nonbroadcast planning grant project should be designed to address a number of important issues in the Final Report on the project. Your nonbroadcast planning should:

    Perform a comprehensive needs assessment.

    Establish firm, precise goals and objectives for the system; these should flow from the needs assessment.

    Select the type(s) of nonbroadcast technical system(s) you wish to use; e.g., fiber optic lines for T1 services; satellite distribution; ITFS; other microwave; online interconnections for web-based video, voice, graphics, and data services.

          If you consider the use of digital technologies that could include a portion of a digital television signal for distance learning services, identify this proposed use.

          A planning proposal for distance learning services may propose to use digital technologies to provide multi-media content using the digital television transmission infrastructure and delivered through a method that is not a typical broadcast channel.

          Your Final Report should explain the basis for choosing your technical system(s) and what alternative systems were considered and why they were rejected.

    Consider project staffing. If your project is for distance learning, you should have determined how many staff will be dedicated to the project if it is constructed in order to operate, maintain, and administer it. Staff training also fits under this heading. Your planning should incorporate how you intend to provide sufficient—and continuing—training to the faculty who would be using the system, either as teachers or as mentors.

    Determine what sort of advisory group would be desirable to ensure that the nonbroadcast distance learning system will continue to serve the needs of its users.

    Indicate what sources of funding will be available for two purposes: (1) to provide the non-federal share of a PTFP project implementation proposal, if relevant, and (2) to support the eventual nonbroadcast system adequately over the long term.

                    N.B. It should be understood that it is perfectly acceptable for a Planning Grant project to conclude that no facility should be constructed.

Preparing a Planning Grant Application

Planning Grant applicants use the standard PTFP Application Form. The following table shows which sections of the Form in addition to the first two pages are required and which are not for Planning Grant applications (page numbers refer to the Application Form):


Sections NOT required from

Planning Applicants

Sections required ONLY from

Planning Applicants

Part I

page 2, item 19 (next year sections)


Part II

Construction Budget, page 3

Part IV, Planning Budget, page 5

Part III

Eligible equipment, page 4


Exhibit B

Inventory, page 7

Exhibit C

Equipment Justification

Exhibit D

Five-year equipment plan

Exhibit D.D.

Distribution Agreements


Applications, etc.

Planning timetable and Step-by-Step Procedures


    Planning Grant applicants should check the appropriate letter under item 9 on page 1 of the Application Form.

    The narrative sections of your application should be printed on one side of plain white paper with margins of at least one inch on all sides and in 12-point Times New Roman typeface or equivalent in actual size. A larger point size is acceptable; smaller is not. (This paragraph is in 12-point Times New Roman.)

    A detailed budget must be included in your application. Reviewers will look at your budget to determine if the costs proposed reflect the most efficient use of Federal funds and are adequate to support project activities. The project budget is summarized in the blank provided on page 5 of the Application Form (Part IV: Budget Information – Planning Grant Applicants Only). As explained on page 5, you must attach a Budget Detail and a Budget Narrative. These items are in addition to Exhibit A, which must also be included as part of your application.

    Planning Grant applications must be submitted in an original and five copies. See the Checklist for instructions on assembling them.

Responding to the Evaluation Criteria

(for Nonbroadcast Planning Applications)

Planning Grant applications are evaluated by the same six criteria used for all applications. This part of these guidelines is intended to help you respond to the criteria, which are printed in §2301.17 of the PTFP Final Rules.

    Your principal responses to the criteria will go in the Program Narrative.

    Two of the criteria are qualifying criteria: Applicant Qualifications and Financial Qualifications. We consider for further review only applications that meet the minimum qualifications for both of these criteria.

    Your Narrative should begin with an introduction that serves as an Executive Summary of your project. It should be a brief, straightforward statement of what you propose to accomplish with the proposed planning. Supporting arguments and justifications belong in the sections that follow.

    You should then address each of the evaluation criteria in separate sections of the Narrative. We recommend that you address them in the order that follows and that you label each section with the name of the criterion being discussed to help the review panel that evaluates your application.

    The Narrative is limited to a total of five pages for the Executive Summary and the first five criteria, but you may make as much use as you wish of Optional Exhibits to provide a detailed explanation of any subject. You should state the main point(s) in the Narrative, with a cross-reference to the Optional Exhibit in which you provide additional information. There is no page limit on your response to the sixth criterion, “Involvement of Women and Minorities.”

The Applicant Qualifications Criterion


    You must indicate at the beginning of the Narrative if your organization is a government entity, Indian Tribe, or non-profit organization.

          If your organization is a government agency/entity, Indian Tribe, or non-profit entity that has received a prior PTFP grant, no further documentation of eligibility is required.

          If yours is a non-profit organization that has never received a PTFP grant, you must supply (1) Certified copies of your articles of incorporation, (2) By-laws, and (3) IRS 501(c)(3) letter in Exhibit CC.

    You must describe your organization, its history, and the resources it has (or will have) available to complete the proposed planning.

The Project Objectives Criterion


    You should describe the number and types of organizations—if any—that will participate and cooperate with you in your proposed planning project. You should also document the involvement of these organizations by providing letters of support, participation, and cooperation in Exhibit F.

    Your application should discuss how the project has been coordinated with any telecommunications services in the service area or with local, regional, or state telecommunications agencies.

    You should clearly discuss whether or not there are already-existing distance learning services in the area for which you want to plan. You must make clear why you must plan for additional services if there are existing distance learning services in the area.

    If you have done pre-planning, you should include any documentation that resulted in one of the Optional Exhibits with a cross-reference from the Narrative.

The Urgency Criterion


    Your Narrative should contain a compelling case that justifies funding the project during the current grant cycle.

    You might discuss any negative consequences that may result if the proposed planning is not done at this time.

    If applicable, you should discuss why your project is timely in pursuing a unique or innovative opportunity to provide substantial potential benefits to a target audience. Supporting documentation may be placed in an Optional Exhibit.

The Planning Qualifications Criterion

Your Narrative should tell PTFP how you will address the following points:

    Proposed planning process and timetable.

          You must prepare a proposed chronological timetable for the project and explain the events that will occur and procedures that will be followed to complete your planning.

          The timetable and step-by-step procedures should be thoroughly described and are typically two to three pages of information in outline form.

             You may incorporate them into your Narrative, or

             You may include them as separate documents in one or more of the Optional Exhibits. If you do so, they should be clearly cross-referenced from the Narrative.

    Issues. You should discuss how you will go about addressing the issues set out at the beginning of this part.

    Staff or consultants. A planning project ordinarily involves a number of qualified staff members and/or a consultant organization or individual in order to ensure that the project will be conducted and completed professionally.

          You should describe the experience and capabilities of the staff members who will be involved in carrying out the planning project.

          If you intend to use consultants, you should discuss the professional qualifications you expect of either consultants in general or of the specific consultants you identify as the ones most likely to work on the project. (Please note that consultants are expected to be selected in free and open competitive bidding. If you have contracted with a consultant to provide services such as pre-planning that may be considered directly related to this project, you must explain why you believe that the particular consultant is integral to the project. Your discussion should explain whether your project would be substantially hindered or delayed without the participation of the consultant in question. The Department of Commerce will determine if you may use the same consultant, or must use competitive bidding for consultants to carry out the project.)

    You must incorporate into your planning potential funding sources to support the proposed facility if it is constructed. You must show how you will determine what financial support exists for (1) the construction and (2) the operation and maintenance of the proposed facility if it is built.

    You must incorporate into your planning potential sources of professional-level engineering to support the proposed facility if it is constructed. You must show how you will determine if what professional engineering resources exist for (1) the construction and (2) the operation and maintenance of the proposed facility if it is ultimately constructed.

The Financial Qualifications Criterion


    You should describe your organization’s demonstrated ability to raise operating and capital funds.

    If you request more than 75% Federal funding, you must include justification for this request. Application reviewers will consider a persuasive, well-documented demonstration of extraordinary need as justification for grants of up to 100% of the total project cost. (Simply stating that you have such a need is not enough!)

    If you will be contributing matching funds toward the planning project, you must provide a certification in Exhibit A regarding the local match.

          You should attach any available documentation of local financial support that has been committed or pledged, even if conditionally.

          You should show how you will raise the necessary funds to pay for any part of the planning that will not be supported by a PTFP grant.

The Involvement of Women and Minorities Criterion

All applicants must respond to this criterion or they will receive no score for this criterion. Points can be awarded for this criterion only when you provide a discussion of this topic as part of your Narrative. Failure to respond to this criterion places your application at a competitive disadvantage and can result in loss of an award because of a loss of possible points. This part of the Narrative does not have to be included within the 5-page limit for your discussions of the other criteria.

In accordance with §392(f) of the Act, the Agency will give special consideration to applications that foster ownership of, operation of, and participation in public telecommunications entities by minorities and women. NTIA has not established any minimum minority or women participation requirements for Special Consideration in PTFP evaluations in order to carry out the objectives of the statute. Rather, NTIA believes that the Congressional intent can be achieved in a fair and flexible manner by taking into account all factual circumstances that might lead to special consideration.

The new PTFP Rules, in §2301.5, provide the following clarifications about special consideration:

Employment of minorities or women is not the only way in which NTIA may assess whether an application promotes significant diversity in the ownership of, operation of, and participation in, by minorities and women. NTIA is also interested in outreach efforts, audience development, and programing strategies. One stated purpose of this program is to respond to the educational, cultural and related programing needs of diverse groups.

Applicants should provide a narrative (with supporting documentation when necessary) that discusses the participation of women and minorities in the station’s ownership and management, especially those concerned with programing decisions and day-to-day operation and management. In preparing their exhibit, applicants should take care to clarify whether they are discussing women, minorities (minorities can be considered as a single group, but the predominant group should be identified as such), or a combination of women and minorities (where the predominant group/gender should be identified, and applicants should express whether they are discussing women or minorities in the case of an individual who is a female minority).