rural landscape

The Fiber Broadband Association and NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association (FBA and NTCA) will jointly publish a Broadband Infrastructure Playbook to assist state governments to implement the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

The program, which is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last month by President Biden, allocates $65 billion to build broadband networks in unserved areas and provide more affordable services, of which $42 billion is earmarked to promote broadband deployment.

Each state will receive at least $100 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for broadband deployments, with additional funding based on the number of unserved locations. Part of the process will be state and local coordination on five-year action plans that will be submitted to the NTIA.

The FBA and NTCA Broadband Infrastructure Playbook is intended to help on this and other elements of the application and deployment process. The playbook will be published before the NTIA publishes a Notice of Funding Opportunity, which is expected in May 2022.

Elements of the playbook will include:

  • Overall program plan, sequencing and timing of activities
  • Recommendations on how states can best incorporate federal grant programs
  • Key process and information requirements (such as the mapping of underserved areas, the management of the award process and post-award monitoring)
  • Organizational structure, scale and distribution of responsibilities
  • Interfaces with other state government departments and external bodies

“State offices are poised to be central players in overcoming our nation’s remaining broadband challenges, and even the most prepared of them have significant work ahead. Whether they retrofit existing grant programs to comply with NTIA requirements or create completely new broadband programs, our playbook will be designed to help guide these efforts,” NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield said in a press release. “This playbook will be instrumental in helping each State realize the promise of the BEAD program and build a better broadband future for everyone.”

This is the second such initiative entered into by the NTCA. Earlier this month, the organization and ACA Connects announced the BEAD Program State-by-State Tracking Project. It will provide members of the organizations with state/territory reports including terms, conditions and deadlines that have been adopted for grants and how to challenge whether or not an area is unserved or underserved.

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