Louisiana Works on Map Challenge Process as it Prepares Digital Equity Plan for Next Week

State broadband offices are tasked with outlining their challenge processes amid other concerns.

Louisiana Works on Map Challenge Process as it Prepares Digital Equity Plan for Next Week
Screenshot of Veneeth Iyengar, director of ConnectLA

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2023 – Louisiana is working to outline its challenge processes according to NTIA guidelines while facing planning deadlines and deployment challenges, said the director of Louisiana’s state broadband office, ConnectLA, at a Broadband Money event Friday.

As states prepare their five-year action and digital equity plans as mandated by the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program, they are also working to outline a state challenge process that will allow entities to submit evidence to dispute a state’s claim on whether a location is unserved or underserved.

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a proposed BEAD Challenge Process Model that dictates suggested processes for states to follow as they draft their plans, which it hinted at earlier this year.

The model outlines a highly controlled system in which the NTIA will review and approve each challenge process and its results. States will not be authorized to begin the challenge process until they submit their full proposal and receive NTIA approval.

Furthermore, states will be required to produce a comprehensive list of all community anchor institutions within their jurisdiction that are eligible for BEAD funding. States will be subject to a deduplication process which mandates that a state may not treat a location as unserved or underserved if it is already subject to an enforceable commitment to deploy qualifying broadband.

Louisiana’s broadband office is working to develop its state challenge process according to these guidelines, said Veneeth Iyengar, director of ConnectLA.

The state is “working with a sense of urgency” to connect its citizens to broadband, said Iyengar. Louisiana submitted over 60,000 fabric map challenges to the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband map and is set to release its digital equity plan next week.

As ConnectLA outlines its state challenge processes, it is also working to solve permitting challenges through its partnerships with local communities.

“We feel really good with the partners we have across the state to help us solve [these challenges],” said Iyengar.

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