Twenty-seven states are expected to see larger allocations in the BEAD rural broadband funding program based on the updated FCC National Broadband Map in comparison with earlier estimates based on older data, according to a new analysis conducted by researchers at Cartesian for provider association ACA Connects.
The other 23 states will see less funding, according to the updated estimates. The increase or decrease for 31 states will be no more than 20%.
The state that is expected to see the biggest gain is Nebraska, which was originally estimated to receive $210 million but is now expected to receive $633 million — an increase of over 200%. Other big gainers are expected to include Alaska (up 84%), Iowa (up 63%), New Jersey (up 63%), Oregon (up 60%) and Kansas (up 50%).
The states that are expected to see the biggest drop in comparison with Cartesian’s previous estimates are Arkansas, Michigan, and South Carolina, all of which are expected to see declines of 25%. All estimated declines are 25% or less.
The BEAD program has a budget of $42.5 billion to cover some of the costs of broadband deployments in unserved and underserved rural areas. The program will be administered by states under the guidance of NTIA, and NTIA is scheduled to announce each state’s allocation in the program by the end of the month.
The new estimates are based on the updated version (Version 2) of the FCC National Broadband Map that was released in late May. The previous estimates were based on the first version of the map, which was released six months earlier.
BEAD allocations will be based, in large part, on the number of unserved locations in a state relative to the number of unserved locations nationwide.
Changes in this data between the first and second version of the map, in general, are the result of availability and location challenges, as well as changes in the data that broadband providers reported about where they have service available.
State BEAD Allocations
As part of its analysis, Cartesian also estimated whether BEAD funding would be sufficient to reach the policy goal of making broadband available nationwide. An important consideration is that BEAD rules call for providers to deploy fiber except for the highest cost locations. According to the researchers, funding will be sufficient to meet program goals.
Providers are required to cover some of the costs of a project. The Cartesian state BEAD allocations analysis was based on the assumption that providers would be willing to contribute matching funds to cover the portion of total deployment costs not covered by the BEAD funding.
The researchers assumed that the providers’ contribution would be no more than $3,000 per location. For the least costly to serve locations, Cartesian estimated that providers would be willing to cover up to 75% of project costs. For the costliest locations, providers would be willing to cover no more than 25% of project costs.
Nationwide, Cartesian expects providers to contribute about $21 billion toward BEAD builds.