Illinois, Indiana and Georgia Announce Plans for BEAD Challenges

Illinois aims to kick off the challenge process on Monday, January 29, and Indiana plans a March 4 start

Illinois, Indiana and Georgia Announce Plans for BEAD Challenges
Photo of Georgia Broadband Office Executive Director Jessica Simmons from LinkedIn

January 22, 2024 – Illinois, Indiana and Georgia and Indiana have announced their plans to start the challenge process under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

States are waiting for approval of their Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Volume I draft plans to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

But two of the states have announced tentative dates:

  • Illinois aims to kick off the challenge on Monday, January 29
  • Indiana plans a March 4 start
  • Georgia officials say they are prepared to launch its challenge as soon as it receives approval of its Volume 1 draft.

Engaging in the challenge process will afford local governments, nonprofits, and internet service providers the chance to rectify inaccuracies present on the FCC National Broadband Map, in an effort to accurately depict the availability of internet service within their respective states. The revised maps will play a crucial role in determining the eligibility of specific locations for funding under the BEAD program.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Office of Broadband said it wants to commence the challenge process on January 29, and began initiating efforts to inform residents of the impending procedure. 

Illinois also released its BEAD Program Challenge Map on Monday, offering stakeholders the opportunity to delve into the mapping platform, explore its data layers, and familiarize themselves with the procedures for future challenge submissions. 

The state anticipates that the challenge process will extend for two weeks, subject to final timing based on approval from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Residents of Illinois can actively engage in the process starting today by visiting to conduct an internet speed test and submit the results. Alternatively, they can coordinate with registered local governments or non-profits to submit a challenge.

Indiana and Georgia proposals

Last Thursday, Indiana's Broadband Office outlined its plans to initiate the state’s challenge process on March 4. The objective is to afford stakeholders additional time to pre-register for active participation in the broadband challenge process. The state will begin pre-registration in late February though the Connecting Indiana portal built by Ready.

In anticipation of this, the state office is informing local challengers about the advantages of acquiring a CostQuest license at the earliest opportunity. 

Obtaining a CostQuest license allows eligible challengers to download the complete FCC National Broadband Map Fabric for Indiana. While not mandatory for challenge submissions, a CostQuest license may prove beneficial for those looking to submit bulk challenges.

Though Georgia is awaiting NTIA approval to begin its challenge process, the Georgia Technology Authority published a Challenge Process Guidebook on January 12 to assist eligible challengers in navigating the state’s challenge portal. Jessica Simmons, executive director of the state's broadband office, said that the state is prepared to open the challenge as soon as it gets NTIA approval.

Once a state embarks on its BEAD challenge process, permissible entities have 30 days to submit challenges before the state broadband office moves into the rebuttal phase.

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