The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. BEAD is the largest broadband-related program established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), allocating $42.45 billion for broadband deployment.
BEAD will be overseen by NTIA but administered through designated governmental bodies in each state (Eligible Entities). The Eligible Entities, in turn, will distribute funding to broadband providers selected through a competitive grant process. The priorities for funding will be (1) providing broadband to unserved areas (lacking 25/3 Mbps); (2) then upgrading underserved areas (below 100/20 Mbps); and (3) then serving community anchor institutions (lacking 1/1 Gbps). Each priority must be fully funded before funding can be used for the next priority.
Initially, the Eligible Entity in each state, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico will receive $100 million for planning and outreach (the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will receive $25 million each). These planning funds are the subject of the NOFO.
- The first step in the process is for Eligible Entities to file Letters of Intent, which are due by July 18, 2022.
- Eligible Entities are then required to file their initial planning funds applications by August 15, 2022.
- Eligible entities must engage in communication and coordination with local governments, Tribes, community orgs, and individuals within their jurisdiction.