BEAD Betterment - A bridge towards digital inclusion and broadband for all
Bridging the gap
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is history’s largest single federal broadband investment. With $65 billion in funding to drive the deployment of future-proof connectivity to all Americans and provide broadband subsidies for low-income constituents. The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program aims to accelerate the country’s progress toward broadband access and adoption, where digital training and literacy deficits exist in the modern age.
The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program comprises 71% ($42.45B) of the IIJA bill to expand high-speed internet access in all 50 states and U.S. territories with an emphasis on prioritizing unserved and underserved locations as well as broadening capability at community anchor facilities. The physical infrastructure buildout funded by the BEAD program is the foundation on which the other broadband programs and initiatives of the IIJA are provisioned (Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), Digital Equity Act).
Many local government leaders face new logistical challenges and responsibilities in allocating funding to maximize connectivity, reliability, and performant broadband services. On the other side of the fence, network providers have been presented with a unique opportunity to extend their service footprint and grow subscribers. Still, it comes with new pressures to address delivery, capacity, and sustainability. The program supports a significant step in providing broadband access nationally. Still, can BEAD achieve its lofty goals of connectivity for everyone within budget in a sustainable way?
Planning and preparation
The next step for the states and local entities is to work with network providers in establishing a 5-year plan that will help support an initial proposal by 2023. Many states have begun to jumpstart their proposals through site and feasibility studies to support the federal NTIA grants application process (NTIA Grants Portal).
As a recap, the Broadband Equity Access Deployment program funding eligibility consists of five core areas of spend:
- Planning for the deployment of high-speed internet, including conducting research, collecting data, outreach, and training,
- Deploying or upgrading internet in unserved or underserved areas or improving service to community anchor organizations,
- Installing internet and Wi-Fi in Multi-unit residential buildings,
- Adoption of digital equity programs,
- Workforce development programs and vocational training.
Read this whitepaper to learn more about the Broadband Equity Access Deployment program and how states and local entities can work with network providers to establishing a 5-year plan and support digital inclusion.