The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) appears to be pushing itself to approve broadband planning grants for all 50 states before the end of 2022, handing out awards for 13 more this week alone. All told, 47 out of the 50 states have received money thus far.
California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming were among this week’s awardees. Funding was awarded to help states both prepare for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program and undertake digital equity initiatives.
California and Texas received the largest sums, with the former bagging nearly $9 million and the latter $8.1 million. California’s allocation included $4.9 million in BEAD planning funds to identify un-underserved locations and develop a five-year action plan as well as $4 million to conduct a statewide digital equity survey and create a digital equity plan. Texas got $5 million for BEAD planning and $3.1 million for digital equity.
As of Wednesday morning, Massachusetts, Montana and New Mexico were the only states which had yet to receive such grants. Those states which have gotten BEAD planning funds have 270 days to submit a five-year action plan to the NTIA for review.
Money from the BEAD program is set to be divvied up based on how many unserved locations there are in each state. The NTIA has said it will announce the allocations for each state by June 30, 2023, after the Federal Communications Commission releases the second version of a new broadband coverage map it debuted in November.
Once the allocations are announced, states will have 180 days to submit an initial proposal outlining how they plan to spend the money and how they will select subgrantees (which may include entities like operators and municipalities). The proposal will be subject to a challenge process, after which the NTIA will make at least 20% of the state’s funding available. Once subgrantees are selected, states will have to submit a final proposal, with approval by the NTIA triggering the release of their remaining funding.