The BEAD challenge process is a critical phase of the BEAD program because it determines which locations in each state and territory are eligible to be served by BEAD funds.
In this process, an eligible challenger — a local government, nonprofit organization, or internet service provider — may challenge whether a particular location or community anchor institution should be eligible.
Only two states, Louisiana and Virginia, have concluded their BEAD challenge process. That leaves 54 other states and territories still navigating the process, according to NTIA’s BEAD Initial Proposal Progress Dashboard.
After the initial challenge window for a state closes, internet service providers can submit their own documentation and rebuttals. Ultimately, the state broadband offices make the final adjudications. Much of this challenge activity will happen during the first half of this year.
There may already be some hiccups in the process. During a recent Broadband Breakfast webinar, Thomas Reid, President of Reid Consulting Group, said that, so far, there has been weak participation from local governments and nonprofit organizations to submit challenges.
On the other hand, ISPs do seem engaged in the challenge process, noted other panelists on the webinar.
VETRO is a vendor that has products to help state broadband officers with their challenge process. VETRO has taken its core product — VETRO FiberMap — and used it as a base to create its Broadband Intelligence Platform.
Charlie Holm, director of State Broadband with VETRO, said the company has done mapping of fiber infrastructure for several years. “Our platform is used by over 300 providers globally. It shows fiber networks and middle mile networks, as well,” he said.
The Broadband Intelligence Platform, which was purpose-built for State Broadband Offices, includes a challenge portal and also a portal for creating funding areas and optimizing for sub-grantee selection.
Asked which states have purchased VETRO’s Broadband Intelligence Platform, Holm cited Maine. “We’ve been working with the state of Maine for many years now to help them with state-led funding rounds.” He said VETRO is now working with Maine on its BEAD challenge process, and “close to having a few” other states as customers.