NTIA Fully Approves BEAD Plans from Colorado and New Hampshire

The states will have one year to award grants under the program.

NTIA Fully Approves BEAD Plans from Colorado and New Hampshire
Photo of Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., by Gage Skidmore

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2024 – The Biden administration has approved the second volume of Colorado’s and New Hampshire’s plans for its flagship broadband expansion program, bringing the total to nine states plus the District of Columbia.

With both volumes given the go-ahead from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the states can begin requesting their allocations from the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program and will have one year to award subgrants. Under the program, Colorado was allocated more than $826 million and New Hampshire more than $196 million.

Volume two of BEAD proposals detail how states will administer grant programs with their funding. Volume one outlined how states will accept challenges to broadband coverage data to get a more accurate sense of which individual homes and businesses lack connectivity.

“Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest investment in high-speed and affordable broadband ever, is closing the digital divide for Tribes and small business owners in rural communities across Colorado,” Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re ready to finish what we’ve started.” 

Colorado’s approved plan has only a few changes from the draft circulated last fall. The state increased the price threshold at which grant applications could start to receive additional points for affordability, going from $85 per month to about $118 per month, a number based on the Federal Communications Commission’s Urban Rate Survey. The state said the increase was “requested by several commenters.”

In a provision that remained unchanged, the state will by default require participating providers to offer plans of $30 per month to low-income households served by BEAD infrastructure. If providers get a waiver approved by the state, they can charge those households a maximum of $50 per month. 

The low-cost plan, a requirement set out by the NTIA, has been contentious on Capitol Hill, with Republican politicians accusing the agency of violating the Infrastructure Law’s prohibition on rate regulation. Broadband industry groups have been arguing the same to state broadband offices.

As of this writing, New Hampshire has not yet posted its approved volume two publicly. 

Colorado finished accepting challenges to broadband coverage data in February and has submitted its final list of BEAD-eligible homes and businesses to the NTIA, which the agency has yet to approve. The state is planning to put subgrant guidelines up for public comment this summer.

New Hampshire has not yet started its challenge process, a prerequisite to the award of grants under BEAD.

Popular Tags