Utah Releases BEAD Proposal, Volume Two

Varied geography might result in multiple high-cost thresholds, the state said.

Utah Releases BEAD Proposal, Volume Two
Photo of Monument Valley by Pedro Szekely.

Utah released volume two of its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment initial proposal on November 15.

It was part of a wave of states that released their proposals last week, bringing the total to 45.

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.

Utah said in its proposal that it does not anticipate its $317 million in BEAD funds will be enough to get broadband to the state’s unserved and underserved populations, those with access to speeds slower than 25 * 3 Mbps and 100 * 20 Mbps respectively. The Utah Broadband Center identified about 41,559 unserved locations and 28,108 underserved locations.

In an effort to address the funding shortfall, the state is meeting with non-profits, broadband providers, and local governments “to examine public-private partnerships for match investments,” according to its volume two. Utah is also open to funding alternative broadband technologies like satellite in the hardest-to-reach areas.

UBC said in the proposal that it intends to negotiate with providers to get more reliable technologies to those areas, though. That state said it plans to meet with providers throughout its single funding round.

The state is planning to make use of the NTIA’s updated letter of credit guidance, which allows less burdensome financing requirements. The agency made the change after months of pushback from advocates and broadband companies, who warned small providers could be edged out by the original rules.

Citing varied geography, UBC said in the proposal it may also set different high-cost thresholds, project costs at which the state will start to consider non-fiber infrastructure, in different areas of the state.

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