The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is preparing to offer four federally funded programs to administer $65 Billion in broadband assistance.
The largest – the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program (BEAD) – will provide $42.5 Billion to states, Washington, D.C., territories and Puerto Rico for mapping, deployment and other broadband functions. Priority funding will be given to unserved and underserved areas and community anchor organizations. A funding opportunity notice is expected to be issued in mid-May.
The second program provides $1 Billion for middle mile infrastructure construction, improvement, or acquisition. The third sets aside $2 Billion for tribal broadband deployment.
The fourth sets aside $2.75 Billion for a number of targeted populations. Included are low income households, veterans, disabled people, aging populations, racial and ethnic minorities and rural inhabitants.
While these are extremely fair and needed programs – particularly the fourth — it will be very interesting to revisit them once they are in the implementation stage. It seems there could be plenty of room for interpretation in the awarding of significant amounts of money.