President Biden will officially announce the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding program today, said White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients in a briefing with reporters on Friday. State BEAD allocations also will be announced today, said senior administration officials on the call.
“Internet access is not a nice-to-have at this point,” said Zients. “It’s a need-to-have or must-have.”
Biden, he said, “will announce the largest internet funding ever so everyone can have affordable internet.”
Biden’s announcement is slated to be on YouTube at this link at 11:45 ET.
The broadband industry has been well-aware of the BEAD program since 2021, when the program was created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
The program, which will be administered by the states under the direction of NTIA, is designed to cover some of the costs of making broadband available to unserved and underserved areas. Unserved areas are those lacking service at speeds of 25/3 Mbps. Underserved areas are those lacking service at speeds of 100/20 Mbps.
States are expected to award funding to network operators based on a point system. Operators are expected to cover at least 25% of project costs unless they obtain a waiver.
State BEAD Allocations
The amount of funding that each state will get will be based, in large part, on the number of unserved locations in the state in comparison with the number of unserved locations nationwide. Ten percent of the total funding will be directed to what NTIA calls “high-cost areas.”
Operators will be required to deploy fiber broadband except in high-cost areas or for “other valid reasons.” For high-cost areas, funding can be directed to DSL, hybrid fiber coax networks or to fixed wireless deployed in licensed spectrum.
Deployments must support speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, although those operators deploying fiber are likely to deploy service at considerably faster speeds in the range of 1 Gbps symmetrical or even higher.
NTIA is using FCC National Broadband Map data updated in May to calculate state allocations. Telecompetitor previously published estimates based on that version of the map from telecom cost analyst Mike Conlow and from Cartesian, which was commissioned by industry association ACA Connects to do the analysis.
Check Telecompetitor again later today for the final state BEAD allocations determined by NTIA.
Updated to include YouTube link and to replace a reference to satellite broadband to instead say DSL or hybrid fiber coax