NTIA Releases $42.45 B Notice of Funding Opportunity for “BEAD”
On May 13, 2022, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (“NTIA”) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (“BEAD”) program, which was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The Program’s principle focus will be on deploying broadband service to unserved locations (those without any broadband service at all or with broadband service offering speeds below 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).
The BEAD Program provides new federal funding of $42.45 billion for NTIA to grant to all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and United States Territories, and in certain circumstances political subdivisions of these States and Territories, funds for broadband planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption activities. Funding is distributed primarily based on the relative number of unserved locations in each State and Territory. Each State is eligible to receive a minimum of $100,000,000, and each state may request up to $5,000,000 of its minimum allocation in Initial Planning Funds. Each Territory is eligible to receive a minimum of $25,000,000, and each Territory may request up to $1,250,000 of its minimum allocation in Initial Planning Funds. Once broadband maps are made available, NTIA will advise each eligible entity how much funding is available to them.
The BEAD program will consist of nine steps: (1) Letter of Intent (due on July 18, 2022); (2) Request for Initial Planning Funds (due on August 15, 2022); (3) Submission of a Five Year Action Plan (due within 270 days of receipt of Initial Planning Funds); (4) Program Fund Allocation and Notice of Available Amounts (once mapping is complete); (5) Initial Proposal (due 180 day after notification of funding); (6) Challenge Process; (7) Release of 20% of funds (once the Initial Proposal is approved); (8) Subgrantee selection process (to be completed within one year after submission of the Initial Proposal); and (9) Final Proposal (due one year after the approval of the Initial Proposal) and approval (at which point the remaining funds will be released).