BEAD: Summer 2023 Guidance
May 18, 2023
When will we know more regarding BEAD funds? How long until applications will open? What can providers DO right now? Nathan Weber, PE, answers these questions and more. To paraphrase: BEAD isn’t a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity – It’s more like a “ONCE” opportunity. Here’s his guidance on making the most of it.
Pertinent timelines for BEAD are approaching. By the end of June 2023, the final maps for the allocation of funding will be unveiled. This will be closely followed by the actual allocation of funds to the respective states. This series of steps is paving the way for the launch of BEAD grant applications by the states. According to Vantage Point’s interactions with various state broadband offices, the first round of BEAD grant funding is anticipated to be introduced in the first quarter of 2024.
The Countdown Begins: Six to Nine Months Until Launch
Given that it’s already May 2023, service providers have a limited window of six to nine months to get ready. The challenge is not just to prepare, but to excel. The BEAD grants represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s a chance to expand footprints and bring broadband to unserved and underserved locations.
Key Action Items for Service Providers
- Strategize & Prioritize. As soon as the maps become available, providers should strategize on target areas. This will allow them to prepare cost estimates for the expansion.
- Conduct Feasibility Analysis. Understanding how much grant funding is needed to make a business case is crucial. This feasibility analysis will shed light on prioritizing areas based on a higher probability of success.
- Consider Other Funding Opportunities. Consider other imminent funding avenues like the last round of state grants using capital projects funds and the USDA’s Reconnect Round 5.
- Policies and Compliance. Prepare essential policies like procurement policies and cybersecurity policies. Ensuring adherence to the NIST framework will be integral for the BEAD program.
The Power of Partnerships
Whether it’s with an electric cooperative, a municipal or county government, or any other entity, collaborations can be a game-changer. These partnerships can provide multiple stakeholders, showcasing a unified community effort. It also offers a variety of mutual benefits – from capital contributions to make-ready services at no additional costs.
The next few months are pivotal. But, you’re not alone in this journey. Vantage Point, with its rich history (learn more about us here) is equipped to guide you. With over $3 billion secured in grants for broadband providers, turning to experts can make all the difference.
BEAD is one component of a bigger discussion.
Let’s start that conversation here.