The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released proposed guidance for the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program’s state challenge process. The program’s rules require that each state and territory include a BEAD “challenge process” in their initial proposal.
NTIA is administering the $42.5 billion BEAD grants to states and territories. It plans to start distributing grants by June 30.
The BEAD grants will depend heavily on the FCC’s updated broadband location maps. States, counties and other entities have since last November been filing challenges to the first draft of the map, which is based on address-specific data submitted by internet service providers. The agency expects to release its next iteration of the maps this month, Inside Towers reported.
The proposed BEAD challenge requirements include collecting disputes from local and tribal governments, nonprofit groups and ISPs. They can challenge whether a location or community anchor institution is eligible for BEAD funding. That includes whether a location has limited or no internet service. NTIA must also complete the challenge process within 90 days and establish a “rigorous evidentiary review process” for submissions.
The proposed guidance expands upon previous guidance to help states and territories design and implement their BEAD challenge process. It includes a model for how they may choose to meet all the requirements of a state challenge in the BEAD program’s rules.
NTIA is requesting feedback on the proposed guidance. To submit a comment via email to: BEAD@ntia.gov by midnight this Friday, May 5.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief