News & Insights / Featured / Insights

BEAD Broadband Funding: Expanding Access to Broadband for Unserved and Underserved Communities

In 2021, the United States saw the most significant federal investment in broadband infrastructure with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bulk of this funding was allocated to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) which dedicated $42.45 billion to expanding high-speed internet in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories.

This record investment through BEAD is improving digital equity across the nation and laying the groundwork for widespread access to affordable broadband. The program will create good-paying jobs, grow economic opportunities, increase access to telehealth, support remote learning and remote work, and ultimately improve quality of life across America.

As states race to take advantage of BEAD funds, they must first clear a number of complex hurdles, including the development of detailed broadband project plans that ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and creating a positive impact. Since many states don’t have large broadband offices with the staff or resources to handle this sudden influx of work, they must turn to outside consultants in the telecom industry to maximize their funding allocations.

With over 25 years of experience in the telecom, wireless, and engineering industries, Tilson’s Broadband Consulting team is uniquely positioned to drive BEAD program success. Our core mission is to build communications and information infrastructure as we strongly believe that it is a fundamental right for every American to have access to high-speed internet, regardless of where they live.

Navigating the Requirements of BEAD Funding

Congress developed specific provisions to ensure taxpayer dollars will be well stewarded. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) oversees administering BEAD funds and has created specific requirements in the form of multiple proposals and plans. These strategic plans include:

Each plan has its own unique requirements and must meet stringent federal requirements. To be successful, applicants need to receive Federal approval on comprehensive, statewide broadband plans.  These plans include clearly defining the impact for constituents, analyzing any existing infrastructure capacity, and accurately forecasting the resources required to build and maintain new network equipment. Feasibility studies, roadmaps, and defined stakeholder partnerships are all critical components to proving a project’s success to receive funding.

Additionally, initial proposals and the final proposal must all undergo a 30-day public comment period that includes robust and documented stakeholder engagement.

States are also responsible for creating and administering programs to accept grant applications from companies, consultants, and private entities looking to partner on broadband infrastructure projects. This requires that project criteria are clearly defined and applied during the grant application phase of the broadband project; applications must be accurately scored to award grants to those applications that best meet the needs of the larger state initiatives.

Finally, awarded projects must be monitored and evaluated to ensure work is progressing as expected and that network deployment matches the design. This often includes field audits, acceptance testing, and sampling.

The Importance of Broadband Consultant Partnerships

Many states have turned to the expertise of consulting firms like Tilson that have years of experience designing and administering grant programs. In Tilson’s case, we have years of experience providing public entities with grant program design, review, and administration services that are specific to expanding access to broadband.

Recognizing just how important partnerships are to expanding access to broadband, Tilson’s Broadband Consulting team works with state clients to support their BEAD programs, including:

Another benefit of partnering with consultants is that they have existing relationships with stakeholder organizations. For example, we are deeply engaged with the NTIA, industry associations, local governments, community partners, and education and training entities. These relationships ensure a strong understanding of community broadband needs, the obstacles that states face in navigating broadband planning and deployment, and the importance of shared goals and collective impact.

The BEAD program is the most significant broadband investment ever made but it can be challenging to implement. Partnering with a consulting team that has experience with the process and knows the stakeholders involved leads to better outcomes for local communities. Every home, business, and school deserves reliable access to high-speed broadband internet. The BEAD program, and Tilson’s broadband consultants, aim to ensure this goal becomes reality.

Partner with Tilson, Your BEAD Expert

Tilson’s consulting team can support the BEAD program from planning to implementation. Tilson resides across the country; we are your resident experts, constituents, and committed partners in ensuring that every American has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet.

Learn more about our services or contact us to discuss your specific broadband connectivity goals. 

Most Recent Articles

Team Tilson

Tilson Tuesdays, Matt Jensen

Team Tilson

Tilson Tuesdays, Amber Rainer

Insights

Securing BEAD Funding: Strategies for States to Meet the 25% Match Requirement

Case Studies

Fluor Driver Selects Tilson to Navigate Complex CMiC Financial Data Conversion & Migration

WARNING: Internet Explorer does not support modern web standards. This site may not function correctly on this browser and is best viewed on Chrome, Firefox or Edge browsers. Learn More.