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2023 in review: BEAD program progresses

With the announcement in June about how Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funds will be allocated, 2023 was an active year in the lead up to funding disbursement. Here's our overview.

Nicole Ferraro

December 19, 2023

4 Min Read
An event highlighting the Biden administration's investment in high-speed internet access in the East Room of the White House, July 2023.
(Source: Sipa USA/Alamy Stock Photo)

The Biden administration's $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program is soon to deliver the largest injection of federal cash into broadband network deployment in US history. While most funding isn't expected to roll out until late 2024/early 2025, this year marked important moments for the program's progression.

Most notably, in June, the NTIA – the agency administering the BEAD program – officially released long-awaited BEAD allocations per state and territory.

"With this funding, along with other federal investments, we're going to be able to connect every person in America to reliable, high-speed Internet by 2030," said President Biden at a White House event announcing the funding. The highest sums of BEAD funds will go to Texas ($3.3 million), California ($1.8 million), Missouri ($1.7 million), Michigan ($1.5 million) and North Carolina ($1.5 million).

Those allocations kicked off the process of states and territories drawing up their BEAD initial proposals, including a detailed challenge process and a BEAD implementation plan. (Initial proposals are due to the NTIA for approval by December 27, 2023, and are being tracked on this dashboard.) One state, Louisiana, managed to have its full initial proposal approved this year and will kick off its BEAD subgrantee program in 2024 as a result.

In addition to BEAD allocations, this year also saw successful industry lobbying of the NTIA to clarify and loosen certain program rules, such as the Buy America statute, and a letter of credit requirement. Following pushback, the NTIA issued limited waivers of both rules.

The specter of BEAD's billions has also impacted local politics and the industry overall, leading states like Colorado to overturn laws limiting municipal broadband, for example, and spurring the development of new tools to assist state broadband offices with their grant process. Analysts have also speculated on which large operators stand to gain the most from BEAD.

Below are some of our stories following this past year in BEAD progress, and the program's broader impact on the industry so far:

About the Author(s)

Nicole Ferraro

Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast, Light Reading

Nicole covers broadband, policy and the digital divide. She hosts The Divide on the Light Reading Podcast and tracks broadband builds in The Buildout column. Some* call her the Broadband Broad (*nobody).

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