Iowa BEAD Initial Proposal, Volumes One and Two

The state is opting into speed tests, area and MDU challenges, and new financing guidelines.

Iowa BEAD Initial Proposal, Volumes One and Two
Photo of a Central Iowa field by Carl Wycoff.

Iowa released both volumes of its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposal for public comment on November 15.

States are required to submit their proposals, which come in two volumes, to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27. Volume one details how states will ground-truth broadband coverage data, and volume two outlines states’ plans for administering grant programs with their BEAD funds.

Volume one

The state is planning to adopt the NTIA’s model challenge process to accept and adjudicate claims of incorrect broadband 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.

Local governments, nonprofits, and broadband providers are able to submit those challenges on behalf of consumers under the model process.

Iowa is electing to accept speed tests as evidence in those challenges, provided they meet certain methodological requirements. The state is also making use of two optional challenge types the NTIA laid out: area and MDU challenges.

An area challenge is initiated if six or more locations in a census block group challenge the same technology from the same provider with sufficient evidence. The provider is then required to show evidence they provide the reported service to every location in the census block group, or the entire area will be opened up to BEAD funds.

Volume two

The state’s broadband office said in its volume two that consumers consistently complained at listening sessions about unaffordable internet. States with left over BEAD funds will be able to issue non-deployment to address adoption and affordability, but Iowa does not expect to have any of its $415 million BEAD allocation left over after funding infrastructure.

Iowa will have the chance to fund those efforts through the Digital Equity Act, a sister program to BEAD that makes $2.75 billion available to address gaps in broadband adoption in low-income and minority communities. The first batch of implementation grants are set to be available in 2024.

The state is also planning to make use of the NTIA’s updated financing requirements, allowing grant applicants to use performance bonds and reimbursement milestones instead of the original letter of credit.

Like most other states, Iowa will be setting its high-cost threshold, the price point at which the broadband office can consider funding technologies other than fiber, after looking over the grant applications it receives. The state is planning a single round of funding.

Popular Tags