To help states leverage the $65 billion in federal funds allocated for broadband infrastructure through President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), industry associations released a guide to implementing the IIJA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which funds broadband infrastructure projects.
The cornerstone of the IIJA’s vision for broadband equity is the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The BEAD program will primarily fund broadband infrastructure projects that increase access and improve affordability.
The Broadband Infrastructure Playbook, developed by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, and telecommunications consulting firm Cartesian, is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource to help states ensure their subsidy programs are consistent with the IIJA’s key objectives. It showcases examples of successful and successful national broadband initiatives in recent years and largely focuses on bridging the digital divide and addressing barriers through wider broadband adoption.
The goal of this Playbook is to provide a valuable resource to states and territories to help them accelerate the availability of funding, provide best practices from state broadband programs that work well, and help ensure consistency. in the national process. This once-in-a-generation funding opportunity warrants an effective and efficient approach that will deliver networks and services that bring value to generations to come.
In the playbook, the first chapter examines the needs of the National Broadband Office, the roles and responsibilities, the resources that the National Broadband Office will need. In the second chapter, they focus on the application process. The third chapter includes recommendations for designing a grant program that will align with the BEAD program. Deployment and service requirements are often complex, and failure to hit all targets can result in underserved communities being locked out for years.
For example, the checklists require broadband speeds of at least 100 megabits per second for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads, low enough latency for reasonably predictable real-time interactive applications, and hotspots regular conduit for fiber projects. In the past, states did not have the funds to provide this level of broadband. In Maine, for example, the state broadband office only required 10/10 Mbps service as recently as 2020; after the last round of funding, the state changed its requirements to at least 100/100 mbps, ensuring that the infrastructure will be able to meet future needs.
The playbook also examines project prioritization, which includes distinguishing a low-cost option for broadband – which is another BEAD requirement. The fourth chapter presents recommendations for designing a subsidy program that understands future connectivity needs for both households and businesses.
As OpenGov Asia reported, when it comes to the quest for an equitable distribution of services across states and localities as well as diversity and inclusion in their workforce, the specifics of the challenge vary from place to place. But a common theme emerged: to truly understand the problems that need to be solved, leaders need to have the necessary data in hand.
Studying city, county and state data informs leaders not only about how taxpayer dollars are spent, but also how they are raised and invested in neighborhoods. It is also necessary to determine whether government employees, senior officials, board members and suppliers reflect the demographic makeup of the entity and are fairly compensated.
Another promising tool was recently introduced through a partnership between the government’s Race Alliance and a software company specializing in geographic information system software, location intelligence and mapping. The new Social Equity Analysis Tool provides a geospatial mapping approach that can be used to visualize areas of interest, assess community-level impact, and guide government decision-making. It will enable governments to use an intersectional lens to identify patterns of needs and opportunities to improve equity through an examination of geography, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and other areas of interest.