Project Grant


Grant Description
Purpose: The purpose of the Pima County Regional Middle Mile Fiber Optic Ring is to ensure that affordable, reliable, and accessible high-speed broadband services can be provided to as many communities, county and local facilities, anchor institutions, and recreational areas as possible. The proposed project creates a 134-mile contiguous open access fiber network ring. The infrastructure will be made available to all viable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other government entities to lease, share, or swap resources. This future-proof design has the capacity to accommodate expansive growth in the region.

The network is designed in a ring surrounding the outer area of Greater Tucson, Arizona, and surrounding rural communities. The proposed middle mile network path connects to 4 Central Office (CO) facilities. These four Tier 1 connections provide a link to the backbone of the public internet with physical interconnections for the exchange of traffic. The proposed middle mile infrastructure will reduce the cost for last mile providers to connect unserved and underserved communities by providing a neutral network that last mile providers can access in a non-discriminatory open access model.

Activities to be performed: The project will use fiber to build a new middle mile network through unserved communities with a commitment to open access and carrier-neutral non-discriminatory interconnect. The period of performance is expected to be 5 years.

Expected outcomes: The proposed project has the following objectives and deliverables:
1. Create a 134-mile contiguous open access fiber network ring.
2. Provide a carrier-neutral open access network that can be made available to any viable carrier at a reasonable price to build rural communities' last mile fiber to the home (FTTH) networks.
3. Provide an opportunity for existing carriers to swap excess dark fiber in one region for dark fiber in another that would allow them to expand their customer base and build new communities with FTTH, significantly reducing cost and build time.
4. Provide public expansion of resources such as public Wi-Fi, smart cities, government services, public safety, traffic control, and shared resources between communities to reduce administrative costs.

Intended beneficiaries: The areas that will benefit from this project will bring resources to smaller communities and expand resources available to the city of Tucson alike. According to the 2020 US Census, the population of Pima County is 1,043,433, which is the second most populous county in the state of Arizona. The majority of county residents live in the Tucson metropolitan area with a population of 545,340. However, nearly half of the county population lives in areas outside of Tucson and is considered very rural. The FCC data indicates that nearly 10% of Pima County households have no broadband access and no internet. In some individual communities that will be served by the Pima County middle mile infrastructure project, nearly 18% of the households have no broadband or internet access at all. The benefits to these areas will create economic opportunity by enabling new business expansion, support the creation of workforce development programs with remote learning options, support current industries and attract new ones to the region, and provide greater remote work opportunities that provide flexibility to people who have mobility issues or have family or childcare needs. Fast, reliable, and affordable internet will also expand medical care options by offering telehealth opportunities, assist first responders with needed technology to save lives, and support smart city and transportation initiatives to manage the complex systems of these critical infrastructure today.

Subrecipient activities: The applicant does not intend to subaward funds.
Place of Performance
Tucson, Arizona 85701-1317 United States
Geographic Scope
Single Zip Code
Related Opportunity
Pima County was awarded Project Grant 0440MM588 worth $30,281,277 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in July 2023. The grant has a duration of 5 years and was awarded through assistance program 11.033 Middle Mile (Broadband) Grant Program. $13,002,677 (30.0%) of this Project Grant was funded by non-federal sources.


Last Modified 6/21/23

Period of Performance
Start Date
End Date
4.0% Complete

Funding Split
Federal Obligation
Non-Federal Obligation
Total Obligated
70.0% Federal Funding
30.0% Non-Federal Funding

Activity Timeline

Additional Detail

SAI Number
Award ID URI
Awardee Classifications
County Government
Awarding Office
Funding Office
Performance District
Kyrsten Sinema
Mark Kelly
Raúl Grijalva
Modified: 6/21/23