It’s been a few weeks since President Biden officially kicked off the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The same day, NTIA announced how much BEAD funding each of the 50 states would be allocated.

What are state broadband offices doing now?

BEAD Initial Proposals

The answer varies from state to state, but one thing they all have in common is that Volume 1 and Volume 2 of their initial proposals are due December 27. Once NTIA approves the proposal, the state will get 20% of its BEAD funding.

The broadband offices have been encouraged to file Volume 1 in advance of Volume 2.

Volume 1 must include:

  • Existing broadband funding
  • Unserved and underserved locations
  • Community anchor institutions
  • Challenge process plans

Volume 2 must include:

  • Local tribal and regional planning coordination
  • How initial 20% of BEAD funds will be used
  • Low-cost options & affordability plans
  • Labor standards and readiness
  • Minority & women-owned business inclusion
  • Climate assessment
  • Other details

It’s worth noting that while many states are still working on their initial proposals, a few may already have filed or expect to do so soon. Additional details about BEAD initial proposals can be found at this link.

BEAD Five-Year Plan

Some states also are working on BEAD five-year plans. Rules call for states to file these within 270 days of when their BEAD planning funds were released. All of those funds were released by late December, which means that all states will have to file their five-year plans by the fall, if they haven’t already.

The BEAD Five-Year Plan must include:

  • Existing broadband program information
  • State broadband funding currently available and where it came from
  • Existing federal funding, including Universal Service Fund
  • Employees to be involved in BEAD
  • Known or potential BEAD implementation barriers
  • “Asset inventory” about broadband activities and partners such as community anchor institutions, community organizations
  • External engagement process description
  • Data available such as ACP enrollment, NTIA internet use survey, American Community Survey, NTIA Indications of Broadband Needs Map
  • Local and regional broadband service needs and gaps, including unserved and underserved locations and community anchor institutions without 1 Gbps connectivity
  • Digital equity and inclusion needs, goals and strategies
  • Alignment of plan with other economic development, telehealth, workforce development plans
  • Technical assistance and additional capacity needed
  • High-level planning

The latter planning must include:

  • estimated timeline and cost for universal service
  • planned utilization of federal, state and local funding
  • priority of areas for federal support
  • any consideration about public-private partnerships or cooperatives
  • strategies to address affordability issues
  • strategies to ensure skilled workforce and labor standards plans

Additional details about the five-year plan can be found at this link.

ARPA Funds

Many states are in the process of planning and administering broadband programs funded through the Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The U.S. Treasury began rolling out CPF money about a year ago, but some states only recently received funding, and a few are still waiting for their funding to be released.

Some state also may still be administering funding that they received through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF).

Both the CPF and SLFRF were created in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The BEAD program was created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

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