This week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the funding amounts each state will receive through the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) program. The BEAD program is a $42.5 billion federal grant program that will fund the construction of broadband networks to unserved and underserved areas across the country.
BEAD allocations were calculated based on the number of unserved and underserved locations in each state according to the FCC’s national broadband map. The NTIA awarded $451 million to Kansas and $1.74 billion to Missouri. Notably, Missouri was awarded more than any other state except for California and Texas.
Once the funds are disbursed, each state’s broadband office will be responsible for organizing a competitive grant process to select which broadband providers will receive funding through the program. Currently, the broadband offices in Kansas and Missouri are working to finalize their plans for how they will administer these funds and will likely open the grant application process for internet providers sometime in early 2024.
Background on the BEAD Program
BEAD is meant to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved communities, which are defined as areas lacking 25/3 Mbps and 100/20 Mbps internet speeds, respectively (these numbers refer to the download and upload speeds of an internet plan). According to federal guidelines, projects in unserved locations must be prioritized first, followed by projects in underserved locations. Network infrastructure funded by this grant must be capable of delivering reliable broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, with fiber infrastructure receiving preference over other technologies.
After a broadband office receives commitments from ISPs to provide service to every unserved and underserved location in the state, the office is allowed to use any remaining BEAD funds to improve the connectivity of anchor institutions like libraries, schools, and hospitals to ensure these institutions receive internet speeds of at least 1,000/1,000 Mbps (also known as symmetrical gigabit).
Businesses, nonprofits, cooperatives, local governments, and public-private partnerships are all eligible to receive funding through the state’s BEAD grant making process so long as 1) the applicant provides matching funds of at least 25% of project costs, 2) the provider offers at least one low-cost internet plan, and 3) the provider either participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) or offers an equivalent affordability program for low-income consumers.
What is the Timeline on the Rest of the Program?
August/September 2023: Deadline for state broadband offices to submit a 5-year action plan to the NTIA describing the state’s goals and priorities in addressing the broadband needs of its communities (due 270 days after receiving planning funds)
Fall 2023: The state broadband office must make its draft initial proposal available for public comment. Community organizations will have the opportunity to formally submit feedback before grants start being awarded.
December 2023: Deadline for state broadband offices to submit their initial proposal to the NTIA outlining the competitive process the state will use to administer BEAD funding (due 180 days after NTIA’s announcement of funding amounts for states)
Early 2024: Once the NTIA approves the state’s initial proposal, 20% of the state’s total grant funds will be released to the state broadband office, who will open the grant application process for internet providers.
Early 2025: Deadline for state broadband offices to submit their final proposal to the NTIA detailing how it has complied with their initial proposals, the outcome of the first round of their grant making processes, their timeline for project implementation, their oversight processes, and other details.
Once the NTIA has approved the state’s final proposal, the remaining portion of the state’s total grant funds will be released to the state broadband office to be made available through its competitive grant process.