The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) says that it will announce allocation levels for eligible states and territories in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program by June 30, 2023.
The announcement comes on the same day that the FCC said that the first version of the new broadband maps will be released on Friday, November 18.
That will set in motion the process for stakeholders to submit challenges to the map, which will be used to allocate funds to the BEAD program. Those wanting to challenge the map data are advised to submit challenges by January 13, 2023 so that the FCC can include the corrections in the final version of the map that will be used to allocate BEAD funding.
“The next eight weeks are critical for our federal efforts to connect the unconnected,” Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, said in a press release about the NTIA state BEAD allocation plans.
“The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure that we have accurate maps guiding us as we allocate major Internet for All awards in 2023.”
Internet for All is an umbrella term that is used to encompass multiple broadband funding programs.
Davidson urged “every state and community that believes it can offer improvements to be part of this process so that we can deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service for everyone in America.”
NTIA said it is working with the FCC to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the broadband availability data. Steps it is taking include:
- Calling providers to reiterate their obligations relating to the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process and to listen to providers’ concerns or technical assistance requests, which will be related to the FCC;
- Providing outreach to Governors’ offices, state broadband offices, and stakeholder communities to share technical assistance resources and solicit feedback
- Producing relevant support materials and emphasizing key deadlines impacting stakeholders.
The FCC announcement kicks off the final phase of creating representative broadband maps. The current maps — which consider a census block to have broadband availability if a single location is served — are thought to be insufficient.
Getting the maps straightened out is especially important for the massive BEAD program, which has a $42.5 billion budget.