States, territories making progress on BEAD funding requirements

April 3, 2024

Most states and territories have taken the necessary steps to receive federal funds designed to provide high-speed internet access nationwide. The funds – more than $42.45 billion – come from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

States and territories are required to create an initial proposal for how each will use their share of the funds. The initial proposal is broken down into two volumes, both of which must receive approval from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) before eligible entities can begin their final proposal.

Initial proposals identify areas that most need affordable broadband and detail a five-year plan for use of the funds. The NTIA will distribute funds, which come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

As of last month, all states have submitted both volumes for approval, and some are already working on the challenge process, which allows governments, nonprofits and service providers to challenge the eligibility of BEAD funding candidates. According to the BEAD progress tracker, 32 eligible entities are waiting for volume II approval, and 23 eligible entities are waiting for both volume I and II approval.

Louisiana has been a leader in the process, becoming the first state to receive approval on their Internet for All Plan and start the timer on their one-year deadline to develop a final proposal that will show how they awarded funds to sub-projects.

“As of today, the state of Louisiana is on the shot clock to allocate our funding to all of the different eligible entities over the next eight months or so,” Thomas Tyler, the deputy director of ConnectLA, said on Episode 7 of “The Connection: Partnering Private and Public Entities,” a companion podcast of Government Market News. “We are quickly moving into the preliminary start of our grant round.”

According to the NTIA timeline, 20% of funding can be made available for qualifying purposes after the initial proposal is approved. The remaining funds, the total allocations of which were announced in June, will be released after approval of the final proposal.

Louisiana received their first BEAD payout in December, with $30 million of the $1.35 billion going toward workforce training to prepare for broadband installation. “For us, it’s moving fast, but this is what a lot of people in other states can start to expect,” Tyler said. “It’s a very compressed timeline.”

To hear more about Louisiana’s approach to ensuring broadband access and allocating federal grants, listen to Episode 7 of The Connection.

Photo by Kabiur Rahman Riyad on Unsplash

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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