Adoption Programs an Important Component of Broadband Equity, Access and Adoption Grants

To deploy the infrastructure itself, states must focus on user buy-in as well as network deployment.

Adoption Programs an Important Component of Broadband Equity, Access and Adoption Grants
Photo of Scott Lively of the NTIA, Matt Kalmus, and Brian O'Hara (left to right) at AnchorNets 2022.

CRYSTAL CITY, Va., October 14, 2022 – A panel at AnchorNets 2022 on Thursday touted the benefits of network-adoption programs as states prepare to receive grants from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program.

“The infrastructure itself needs adoption,” said Matt Kalmus, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group. He argued states must focus on user buy-in as well as network deployment.

Higher usage rates will result in higher network revenues, Kalmus continued. “We can do the best job in the world to connect everyone’s doorstep to the internet,” he said, but providers rely on user-generated revenue from network users.

The BEAD program will dispense $42.45 billion dollars to the states for broadband deployments. BEAD is overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency and was funded in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Following the completion of the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map, the NTIA will allot BEAD funding to state and territory governments based on relative coverage levels.

“It’s not just ‘build it and they will come,’” said Brian O’Hara, senior director of regulatory issues for telecom and broadband at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “There’s a lot of things you need to do, right: There’s the affordability issue, there’s the digital equity and [potential users] understanding how to use these tools.”

Correction: Funding under the NTIA’s BEAD program will flow to state and territory governments, and not to Tribal governments, as was stated in a prior version of this article. Tribal broadband funding is covered under other programs within IIJA. The story has been corrected.