The challenge process in each state and territory will determine which locations are eligible for BEAD-funded projects
Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is encouraging affordable housing facilities to help states and territories determine where to direct grant funding to expand high-speed Internet access by participating in the BEAD challenge process.
“Online participation is a necessary resource to thrive in today’s society and this BEAD funding will help address the urgent need to connect everyone to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Working together, we can ensure that these funds reach those most in need.”
Administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program (BEAD) provides $42.45 billion in federal grant funding to deploy reliable, affordable high-speed Internet infrastructure to everyone in America, particularly in unserved or underserved communities. All 50 states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive funding to administer their own subgrant programs to build infrastructure in communities across their states.
Each state and territory will run its own BEAD challenge process to solicit public feedback on the homes, small businesses, and community anchor institutions—such as school and libraries—that are deemed eligible to be connected through BEAD-funded projects. In this process, an eligible challenger (a unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or Internet service provider) may challenge a determination made by the state as to whether a location is unserved or underserved by high-speed Internet service.
Service availability, as described on the FCC map, for multi-dwelling unit (MDU) housing, such as apartment buildings, may not accurately reflect whether service is available to every unit in the building. HUD encourages MDU owners and management to work with eligible challengers to ensure that their availability data are correct or to submit a challenge directly to the state if they are eligible to do so.
The BEAD program provides flexibility to states and territories on how to run their challenge processes, including which types of challenges they allow. Eligible challengers should consult the state or territory’s broadband office to find out when and how challenges can be submitted.
Dates for the challenge process will vary by state. Some states have begun their challenge process, others will begin soon. The window to submit a challenge is short, and can range from 14-30 days. For more information, visit NTIA’s website here or visit www.internetforall.gov.
For those who want to learn more about the challenge process, a webinar recording is available here.