Update on NTIA BEAD & Other Federal Broadband Funding Programs for Broadband Deployment 

By: Hailey Farrow, Marketing Manager & Zac Byrd, Marketing Associateon behalf of CostQuest Associates

The landscape of internet connectivity in the United States is undergoing a significant transformation thanks to various federal broadband funding programs investing in broadband deployment, including the NTIA’s BEAD – Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, the Capital Projects Fund (CPF), the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), Enhanced A-CAM, USDA’s ReConnect program, and more. This article offers an in-depth overview of the status of the major federal broadband funding programs to support broadband deployment, highlighting their progress and outlining future steps. 

Quick summary all Federal Broadband Funding Programs for Broadband Deployment

CostQuest - overview of the progress on federal broadband funding programs for broadband deployment.

*Data from the FCC’s Broadband Funding Map & NTIA’s Website 

  • BEAD
    • $42.5B awarded
  • Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program 
    • $1.38B obligated for 100,408 locations 
  • Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program   
    • $1B authorized, $930,021,354M awarded 
  • Broadband Infrastructure Program  
    • $272M obligated for 243,104 locations 
    • $29M disbursed
  • Capital Projects Fund  
    • $9B awarded to all states and territories to serve 2M locations.
  • Rural E-Connectivity Program (ReConnect)
    • $4.78B obligated for 449,118 locations  
  • Community Connect Program  
    • Over $95M obligated for 15,030 locations 
  • Telephone Loan Program  
    • $413M obligated for 128,926 locations 
  • Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)  
    • $6B obligated for 3,455,217 locations 
    • $673,146,254 disbursed 
  • Enhanced ACAM  
    • 18.2B authorized to provide 100/20 Mbps for 700,000 locations and maintain or improve existing 100/20 Mbps service to some 2 million locations in 44 states 
  • Connect America Fund Phase II  
    • $1.2B obligated for 379,625 locations 

Deeper dive Progress on NTIA’s BEAD Federal Broadband Funding Program

NTIA BEAD Initial Proposals

The BEAD Initial Proposal is divided into two volumes. Volume 1 primarily addresses the challenge process of the Eligible Entity, while Volume 2 encompasses the remaining components of the Eligible Entity’s BEAD implementation plan. The NTIA has set a deadline of December 27, 2023, for states and territories to submit their Initial Proposals. 

Here are the latest updates on the progress of BEAD Initial Proposals Volume 1 and Volume 2 across the 56 states and territories:  

NTIA BEAD Initial Proposal – Volume I

PhaseStates & Territories Progress
Shared Draft with NTIA56
Released for Public Comment56
Submitted to NTIA for Approval25
Approved by NTIALouisiana & Virginia
States that have submittedLouisiana, Virginia, Delaware, Kansas, Nevada, Vermont, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Utah, Tennessee, Washington, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Wisconsin 
*Progress as of November 29, 2023NTIA‘s BEAD Initial Proposal Progress Dashboard

NTIA BEAD Initial Proposal – Volume II

PhaseStates & Territories Progress
Shared Draft with NTIA56
Released for Public Comment56
Submitted to NTIA for Approval6
Approved by NTIAN/A
States that have submittedLouisiana, Virginia, Delaware, Kansas, Nevada, and Vermont. 
*Progress as of November 29, 2023NTIA‘s BEAD Initial Proposal Progress Dashboard

Significant progress has been achieved in both Volumes 1 and 2 of the BEAD Initial Proposals. This advancement underscores the collaborative efforts between federal government entities and broadband offices, demonstrating their dedication to enhancing broadband access nationwide and within their local communities. Nevertheless, there is still more work ahead to tackle the next phases of the BEAD program. 

What’s Next in the NTIA’s BEAD Program 

BEAD Initial Funding Availability 

NTIA will thoroughly assess the BEAD Initial Proposals, and upon approval, Eligible Entities can gain access to a minimum of 20% of their allocated grant funds. However, if a proposal is incomplete or falls short of the established standards, NTIA will communicate the concerns to the Entity. The entity will then be able to revise and resubmit their proposal within a specified deadline. If the resubmitted Initial Proposal does not adequately address NTIA’s concerns, it will be considered an unsuccessful application. Throughout this entire process, NTIA is providing support to ensure that every Entity successfully obtains approval for their Initial Proposal.  

BEAD Subgrantee Selection 

Following the approval of the BEAD Initial Proposal, Eligible Entities are authorized to establish a competitive process for selecting subgrantees. They have a one-year timeframe to engage in further local coordination, finalize the selection process, and submit a Final Proposal to NTIA. During this period, Eligible Entities are allowed to allocate a minimum of 20% of the total grant funds to kickstart eligible activities before submitting their Final Proposals. This approach ensures both a methodical selection process and the timely initiation of key broadband program related activities. 

BEAD Final Proposal 

After the selection and approval of the subgrantees’ grant applications, Eligible Entities must submit a Final Proposal that details compliance with their Initial Proposal and outlines the process’s outcome. Once NTIA approves the Final Proposal, the remaining funds will be disbursed to the Eligible Entities. These entities will then allocate the remaining 80% of the funding, alongside any unawarded portion of the initial 20%, through subgrants. The deadline for submitting Final Proposals is no more than 365 days following the Assistant Secretary’s approval of the Initial Proposal.  

Update on the Capital Projects Funding Program

The American Rescue Plan’s (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund (CPF) is another monumental funding initiative that can support broadband deployment alongside the NTIA’s BEAD program, getting $10 billion into the hands of states and territories. The mission? To power essential capital projects that directly enhance how we work, educate, transport, and monitor our health, including those crucial remote options, all in response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CPF’s impact has already been massive, with approximately $9 billion awarded for projects spanning broadband, digital technology, and multi-purpose community centers. These funds have reached all states and the District of Colombia, and they’re set to touch the lives of well over 2 million locations and serve countless individuals. 

Want to dive deeper into the details? Explore the award amounts for states, territories, and freely associated states on the Award Fact Sheets provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

Each Capital Projects Fund award sheet contains the following: 

  • An overview of the funding amount for the program  
  • An estimate of the individuals or locations served   
  • A description of the program  
  • A main contact

State Program Example

Idaho’s Capital Projects Fund Program Overview 
  • Program Summary: $120 million for Broadband Infrastructure (93% of CPF allocation). 
  • Locations to be Served: 35,000 (estimated). 
  • Program Description: Idaho outlined a competitive grant program designed to build reliable broadband infrastructure to areas lacking access to the internet with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.  
    • As reported by Idaho, estimates show that investments made using the Capital Projects Fund will serve ~23% of locations still lacking high-speed internet access in the state. 
    • The program is designed to provide internet service with speeds of 100/100 Mbps upon project completion. 
    • Each of the internet service providers funded by the program will participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a $30 per month subsidy for low-income families. 
  • Key State Contact: The Idaho Department of Commerce (IDOC). 

More information on awards made to Tribal Governments can be found here: Tribal Government Awards – U.S. Department of Treasury 

Progress on the RDOF Federal Broadband Funding Program

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) was initiated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and aimed to bridge the digital divide in rural America by facilitating the deployment of high-speed broadband networks. The program planned to allocate up to $20.4B over the next 10 years to deploy fixed broadband and voice services to millions of unserved homes and small businesses. The initial award phase targeted areas completely devoid of broadband services, and the subsequent phase was designed to target partially served areas.  

RDOF Phase I Auction ended in 2020, where 180 winning bidders, (including fixed wireless providers, cable operators, electric cooperatives, telephone companies, etc.), were awarded $9.2B for deployment. These winning bidders have committed to deploy broadband for over 5.2 million locations that previously lacked service with minimum speeds of 25/3 Mbps. Most of these locations are expected to receive access to broadband speeds of 100/20 Mbps. 

RDOF Phase II, which covers the remaining $11.2B of the fund, will not occur until the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) and new broadband map can be used as a guide to navigate Phase II eligibility. Phase II is meant to cover locations in census blocks that are partially served, and locations not funded in Phase I. As of now, the FCC does not have an update as to when this next auction will occur.  

FCC Issued $8.7 Million in Fines to RDOF Applicants that Defaulted on Bids 

In a significant development, the FCC announced a decisive move against defaults in the RDOF Phase I Auction. On May 1, 2023, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), targeting 22 auction applicants. These entries are charged with defaulting on their bids for support, spanning from May 3, 2022, to December 16, 2022. The defaults are attributed to either withdrawal of applications in certain areas or failure to adhere to the agreed deadlines and requirements, a violation of Section 1.21004(a) of the FCC’s rules. 

This action by the FCC has significant implications, as the defaults impacted a substantial number of geographic areas – specifically, 2,994 census block groups. In response to these violations, the NAL proposes forfeitures totaling $8.7M. 

Update on USDA’s ReConnect Federal Broadband Funding Program 

USDA’s Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program was launched with the goal of expanding high-speed broadband access in rural and underserved communities. Since its inception in 2019, the ReConnect Federal Broadband Program has grown in terms of the number of projects funded and the total investment and households served, showcasing the commitment to enhancing digital connectivity and the associated benefits in rural America. USDA has awarded a total of $4.78B to serve 449,118 locations through the ReConnect Program. 

Round One – 2019

“In the inaugural round of funding opportunities, USDA supported 75 projects focusing on high-speed broadband development. These initiatives received $607.01 million and will impact a total of 133,123 households,” (USDA ReConnect Program FY 2019). 

Round Two – 2020

“In the second round of funding opportunities, USDA invested in 98 projects dedicated to high-speed internet development. These efforts are backed by $801.1 million and will benefit a total of 135,567 households,” (USDA ReConnect Program FY 2020). 

Round Three – 2022 

“In the third round of fund opportunities, USDA supported 103 projects for high-speed internet development. These initiatives are backed by an investment of $1.66 billion and is set to impact a total of 105,370 households,” (USDA ReConnect Program FY 2022). 

Round Four – 2023 

“In the most recent round of funding opportunities, USDA has committed to 88 projects for high-speed internet development. These initiatives represent an investment of $1.71 billion and will benefit a total of 94,147 households,” (USDA ReConnect Program FY 2023). 

Update on the FCC’s Enhanced ACAM Funding Program

The FCC’s Enhanced A-CAM program, introduced in mid-2023, is another federal broadband funding program to support broadband infrastructure deployment, structured to be in sync with the objectives of the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. Eligible carriers had until October 1, 2023, to make their election for support under this program, (CostQuest, Explore the FCC’s New Enhanced A-CAM Program).

In November of 2023, “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized over $18.2B in Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model (Enhanced A-CAM) support for 368 carriers that have accepted the extended subsidy offer,” (Fierce Telecom). 

“Those companies are committing to deploy broadband service of at least 100/20 Mbps to over 700,000 locations and maintain or improve existing 100/20 Mbps service to some 2 million locations in 44 states,” (Fierce Telecom).

The Enhanced A-CAM allocations for each provider will span over a 15-year period beginning on January 1, 2024. Interim deployments are set for 50% of required locations by the end of 2026, 75% by 2027, and 100% by 2028. 

Mechanisms to track progress & prevent overlap of federal broadband funding

Federal and state agencies have adopted coordinated approaches to efficiently manage the allocation of federal broadband funding to prevent redundancy across the various funding programs. This approach relies on tools such as:

  • FCC’s Broadband Funding Map:
    • Provides an overview of broadband infrastructure deployment projects funded by the Federal government throughout the United States
    • It incorporates funding data submitted by federal agencies and broadband availability data submitted by internet service providers (ISPs) through the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection in an online mapping tool
    • Each Federal agency compiles funding project data for its own programs and reports the data for inclusion on the map
  • NTIA’s Federal Broadband Funding dashboard:
    • Includes spending data from 13 agencies across 98 federal high-speed Internet programs
    • Reports Tribal broadband funding for the first time
    • Includes data by federal program at the state level
    • Breaks out funding by appropriated (budgeted by Congress), obligated (awarded for spending by the program) and outlayed (spent by the program)

These tracking mechanisms have been implemented to offer a clear understanding of how much funding has been committed, where funds are being directed, and who has been awarded grants. The FCC’s Broadband Funding Map and NTIA’s Federal Broadband Funding dashboard can help identify the potential overlaps in funding, and uncover the unserved and underserved areas that need broadband infrastructure deployment funds.


Continue Reading

Back to Top