The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded a total of more than $21.9 million in planning grants to four states under the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) and the Digital Equity Act programs.
The BEAD program will make funding available to states to award for broadband deployments in unserved areas. The Digital Equity Act program also will be administered by the states and will provide funding for digital skills training and similar programs.
Before funding is released to a state, however, NTIA must approve a plan from the state about how it will award funding. The planning funds are intended to help the states develop these plans.
All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding, with the 56 eligible entities to be announced on a rolling basis.
The states that will receive the planning grants are:
- Florida will receive BEAD funds of $4,999,976.99 and Digital Act funds of $2,407,223.57.
- Mississippi will receive $5 million in BEAD funding and Mississippi $875,585.61 in Digital Equity Act funding.
- Utah is being awarded $5 million in BEAD funds and $676,684.53 in Digital Equity Act funds.
- South Dakota is receiving $2,604,218.30 from the BEAD program and $527,051.65 in Digital Equity Act funds.
BEAD Planning Grants
The BEAD planning funds can be used for:
- Identification of unserved and underserved locations
- Outreach to diverse stakeholders across all entities and geographies within the state;
- Training for employees of the broadband program
- Asset mapping across the state administrator to catalogue broadband adoption, affordability, equity, access and deployment activities;
- Surveys of unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption
- Efforts to support local coordination including capacity building at the local and regional levels.
Digital Equity Planning Grants can be used for:
- Development of a statewide digital equity plan;
- Hiring of a digital equity/inclusion specialist who will create and execute the state digital equity strategy;
- Partnerships with a consortium of our higher education institutions;
- Engagements with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to provide direct advice and best practices.