BEAD Funding Program – NOFO Breakdown

About the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD funding program) is a broadband grants program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to provide support for:

  • Broadband planning
  • Deployment
  • Mapping
  • Equity
  • Adoption activities

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is in charge of administering the BEAD funding program. A total of $42.45 billion dollars is available under the BEAD program with the goal to “lay the critical groundwork” for:

  • Widespread access, affordability, equity, and adoption of broadband
  • Create good-paying jobs; grow economic opportunities, including for local workers
  • Provide increased access to healthcare services
  • Enrich the educational experiences of students
  • Close long-standing equity gaps, and
  • Improve the overall quality of life across America

Who can apply for BEAD funding?

All fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as U.S. Territories, can apply for grants from the BEAD program.

Where do you apply?

Complete Letters of Intent, Requests for Initial Planning Funds, Five-Year Action Plans, Initial Proposals, and Final Proposals all can be submitted through NTIA’s online application portal.

How do you apply for BEAD funding?

Below are the steps Eligible Entities must take to apply for grants from the BEAD program.

Submit a Letter of Intent

To receive grants from the BEAD program, Eligible Entities need to submit a completed Letter of Intent to NTIA through the application portal by July 18, 2022. The Letter of Intent should be in letter form and signed by the Governor or equivalent. See NTIA’s full NOFO for what exactly the Letter of Intent should include.

Request Initial Planning Funds/Fiver-Year Action Plan

Either with the Letter of Intent or after, States may request up to $5,000,000 in Initial Planning Funds. U.S. Territories may each request up to $1,250,000. If an Eligible Entity requests Initial Planning Funds, they must apply by August 15th, 2022.

*Five-year action Plan: Eligible Entities that receive Initial Planning Funds must submit a Five-Year Action Plan within 270 days of receiving Initial Planning Funds.

Initial Planning Funds may be used for the following planning and pre-deployment activities:

  1. Research and data collection, including initial identification of unserved locations and
    underserved locations consistent with the rules, regulations, and processes the
    Commission has established for making these determinations in the Broadband DATA
    Maps
  2. The development of a preliminary budget for pre-planning activities
  3. Publications, outreach, and communications support related to broadband planning,
    deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption
  4. Providing technical assistance to potential subgrantees, including through workshops and
    events
  5. Training for employees of the broadband program or office of the Eligible Entity or
    employees of political subdivisions of the Eligible Entity, and related staffing capacity or
    consulting or contracted support to effectuate the goals of the BEAD Program
  6. Establishing, operating, or increasing the capacity of a broadband office that oversees
    broadband programs and broadband deployment in an Eligible Entity
  7. Asset mapping across the Eligible Entity to catalog broadband adoption, affordability,
    equity, access, and deployment activities occurring within the Eligible Entity
  8. Conducting surveys of unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to
    better understand barriers to adoption
  9. Costs associated with meeting the local coordination requirements in Section IV.C.1.c of this NOFO include capacity building at the local and regional levels or contracted support
  10. Reasonable post-NOFO, pre-Initial Planning Funds expenses in an amount not to exceed
    $100,000 relating to the preparation of program submissions to NTIA (such as the Letter
    of Intent) or adding additional capacity to State or Territorial broadband offices in
    preparation for the BEAD Program may be reimbursed if they are incurred after the
    publication date of this NOFO and prior to the date of issuance of the grant award from
    NTIA
  11. Other uses approved in advance writing by the Assistant Secretary (including in response
    to an Eligible Entity’s request) that support the goals of the Program

Initial Proposal

After Eligible Entities receive the Notice of Available Amounts, they will have 180 days to develop and submit an Initial Proposal to describe the competitive process the Eligible Entity proposes to use to select subgrantees to construct the broadband project. Before submitting to NTIA, the Initial Proposal needs to be made available for public comment, and must “incorporate local coordination feedback. The Initial Proposals may be submitted immediately after receiving the Notices of Available Amounts and will be due to NTIA no later than 180 days after such issuance.

In drafting the Initial Proposal, Eligible Entities should keep in mind that they may allocate grant
funds for the following:

  1. Data collection, broadband mapping, and planning to the extent necessary beyond the planning fund allocation to facilitate the goals and deliverables of the BEAD Program
  2. Deploying and/or upgrading broadband network facilities in connection with an Unserved
    Service Project or an Underserved Service Project
  3. Deploying and/or upgrading broadband network facilities to provide or improve service
    to an eligible community anchor institution
  4. Installing internet and Wi-Fi infrastructure or providing reduced-cost broadband within a
    multi-family residential building, with priority given to a residential building that has
    a substantial share of unserved households or is in a location in which the percentage of
    individuals with a household income that is at or below 150 percent of the poverty line45
    applicable to a family of the size involved is higher than the national percentage of such
    individuals
  5. Broadband adoption, including programs to provide affordable internet-capable devices
  6. Training and workforce development
  7. Other uses, including other Digital Equity programs not already included above,
    proposed by Eligible Entities and approved in advance in writing by the Assistant
    Secretary that supports the goals of the Program

Challenge Process

After submitting the Initial Proposal and before allocating BEAD funds, an Eligible Entity must carry out a Challenge Process. “Under this process, a unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or broadband service provider can challenge a determination made by the Eligible Entity in the Initial Proposal as to whether a particular location or community anchor institution within the jurisdiction of the Eligible Entity is eligible for the grant funds, including whether a particular location is unserved or underserved. Eligible Entities are asked to submit any successful challenges to NTIA to review and approve.”

Initial Funding Availability

NTIA will review the Initial Proposals as quickly as possible, and if Initial Proposal is approved, Eligible Entities can access no less than 20% of the total grant funds that will be allocated to them.

Subgrantee Selection

After the Initial Proposal is approved, Eligible Entities can create a competitive subgrantee selection process and will have up to one year to conduct additional local coordination, complete the selection process, and submit a final proposal to NITA. “The Eligible Entity may utilize the funding provided (not less than 20 percent of the Eligible Entity’s total grant funds) to initiate certain eligible activities before submission and approval of their Final Proposals.”

Final proposal

Once subgrantees are selected and their Initial Proposals are approved, Eligible Entities will need to submit a Final Proposal explaining how it complies with the Initial Proposal and the results of its processes. NTIA will then distribute the remaining funds to Eligible Entities once their Final Proposal has been approved. “Eligible Entities will initiate their subgrants for the remaining 80 percent of the funding and any portion of the original 20 percent that the Eligible Entity has not yet awarded as a subgrant.” Final Proposals are due no later than 365 days after the approval of the Initial Proposal by the Assistant Secretary.

Any due dates to keep an eye on?

  • Completed Letters of Intent ————- July 18th, 2022
  • Request for Initial Planning Funds —— August 15th, 2022
  • Initial Proposal ——————————— Due 180 days after NTIA formally notifies eligible entities of their formula allocations
  • Final Proposal ———————————- Due 365 days after the approval of the Initial Proposal

What broadband projects is the BEAD program prioritizing?

The BEAD program will prioritize projects that are designed to deliver fiber connectivity directly to the end user. The program’s primary focus is on deploying broadband service to unserved locations (those without any broadband service at all at 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream/3 Mbps upstream) and underserved locations (those without broadband service offering speeds of 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream).

“NTIA has a strong preference that Eligible Entities also ensure deployment of gigabit connections to community anchor institutions such as libraries and community centers that lack such connectivity.”

*Note:

  • This program will prioritize projects designed to deliver a fiber connection directly to the end user.
  • All projects are required to offer a low-cost option to eligible subscribers.
  • All States must have plans to address middle-class affordability.
  • This program will also prioritize proposals that improve service affordability – since these networks are being built using taxpayers’ dollars. This is to ensure service is affordable and available to access by all Americans.

How much funding can each entity receive?

“Each State is eligible to receive a minimum allocation of $100,000,000. They may request up to $5,000,000 of its minimum allocation in Initial Planning Funds.”

“U.S. Territories are eligible to receive a minimum allocation of $25,000,000. Each territory may request up to $1,250,000 of its minimum allocation in Initial Planning Funds.”

*Note:

After the broadband coverage maps have been published (FCC’s Broadband DATA Maps), NTIA will then use these maps to determine the number of unserved locations in every State and Territory. NTIA will notify eligible entities of their total funding allocations. Funding allocations are calculated in accordance with Sections 60102(c)(1) and (c)(3) of the Infrastructure Act, and inclusive of the minimum initial allocation and Initial Planning Funds.

CostQuest Associates was awarded the FCC’s Broadband Serviceable Location contract to help solve location accuracy issues and provide the foundational data to support a National Broadband Map (FCC’s Broadband DATA Maps). See the full press release to learn more about CostQuest and the FCC’s Fabric.

How will BEAD funding be distributed?

“Funding will be distributed based on the relative number of “unserved” locations (broadband serviceable locations that lack access to reliable broadband service at speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream and latency level low enough to support real-time, interactive applications) in each State and U.S. Territory.”

Source

More resources

Disclaimer

The FCC and NTIA are not responsible for the information or views in this communication and are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of such information or views.

Continue Reading

Back to Top