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The Inside Scoop on NTIA BEAD Funding

The Inside Scoop on NTIA BEAD Funding

As the $42.45 billion BEAD program begins its transition from planning to execution, it’s important to understand where in the process the NTIA and states are, and what additional work is necessary to start allocating funds and spending money for network construction. As of today, four states have gotten their initial proposals approved: Louisiana, Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas. It’s a pace that is a bit slower than many would like.

“I think we’re probably about to see a wave of approvals coming from NTIA in the next few weeks,” said Joanne Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy. “Every state had its initial proposal… submitted to NTIA by the statutory deadline, which was December 27, and the process since then has been about what NTIA calls curing, which is their review and then their requests for changes where they believe it’s necessary for compliance with the law.”

Currently, states are wrestling with the map challenge step of this multi-part effort, ensuring the FCC broadband maps have correctly identified unserved and underserved households, making corrections and updates as new locations are turned up and other areas are shown to not have access to broadband services. Once the map challenge process is complete and the NTIA approves the state’s Volume II grant proposal, the state will then launch the actual grant programs.

The heavy lifting of approving Volume II plans and working through map challenges will continue throughout 2024 with the hope that funds for more states will start to flow into 2025. Hovis pointed out that there’s been nothing like BEAD before, with a specific mandate to have 100% connectivity for all state households.

“Nobody has done this before. Nobody,” said Hovis in reference to Louisiana becoming the first state to receive approvals from the NTIA and the length of time it has taken to approve additional state plans, since then. She believes the process should become faster as NTIA gains experience in working with states to cure and approve final Volume II plans.

To get more of an inside scoop on what’s happening with BEAD and the next steps before states start moving grant money, listen to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.