WASHINGTON, November 22, 2023 – All 56 states and territories have now released for comment their Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposals.
Funded by the 2021 Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the BEAD program provides $42.5 billion for expanding broadband infrastructure. That money was allocated to states and territories in June based on their unconnected populations.
A final wave released their proposals for funding projects with that money in recent weeks, with Florida bringing the total to 56 on Wednesday.
States and territories are required to submit those proposals, which come in two volumes, to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27. So far, 24 have submitted volume one and three have submitted volume two
Volume one details how states will ground-truth broadband coverage data. The Federal Communications Commission’s largely provider-reported coverage map was used to allocate BEAD money, but is not considered accurate enough to determine which specific locations lack broadband.
Volume two outlines states’ plans for administering grant programs with their BEAD funds. That includes provisions like how grant applications will be scored, financing requirements, and the price at which states will start to consider technology other than the fiber-optic cable favored by the program.
The NTIA approved volume one from Louisiana on September 22 and Virginia on October 25, allowing their challenge processes to kick off. Those are each slated to last 90 days, after which the states will have finalized their list of which locations are eligible for BEAD-funded broadband.
The agency has yet to approve a volume two.
States are able to submit volume one before volume two, an effort by the NTIA to get challenge processes started and expedite the program’s process.
Once a state or territory’s volume two is approved, it will have one year to award grants under the process outlined in that volume and submit a final proposal to the NTIA. Projects are slated to get underway after the agency signs off on those final proposals.