The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) appears to be rushing to approve broadband planning funding for all 50 states by the end of 2022, awarding 13 more grants this week alone. So far, money has been distributed to 47 of the 50 states.
This week’s awardees included California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming. Funding was provided to assist states in preparing for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program as well as implementing digital equity projects.
California and Texas received the most money, with the former receiving nearly $9 million and the latter receiving $8.1 million. California received $4.9 million in BEAD planning money to identify underserved areas 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, only Massachusetts, Montana, and New Mexico had yet to receive such grants. States that have received BEAD planning money have 270 days to submit a five-year action plan for review to the NTIA.
The BEAD program’s funds will be distributed based on the number of unserved areas in each state. The NTIA has stated that it will reveal the allocations for each state by June 30, 2023, following the introduction of the second iteration of the Federal Communications Commission’s new broadband coverage map, which debuted in November.
States will have 180 days after the allocations are announced to submit an initial proposal detailing how they intend to spend the money and how they will select subgrantees (which may include entities like operators and municipalities). The proposal will be challenged, and the NTIA will make at least 20% of the state’s cash available as a result. Once subgrantees are chosen, states must submit a final proposal, with NTIA approval triggering the release of their remaining cash.