Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Grant Areas
When I first read the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act legislation that created the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grants, I thought it was going to be a grant program that a whole lot of my clients would choose to ignore. The requirements in the legislation seemed overwhelming. But over the last year, my opinion mellowed because I assumed that State Broadband Offices (SBOs) would soften some of the rough edges of the federal rules. SBOs were supposed to meet with internet service providers (ISPs) and other constituencies to hear their concerns, and since ISPs are the ones that ultimately will accept the BEAD grants, I assumed SBOs would try to make rules that will lure ISPs to participate. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case, and many states are layering on additional rules that make these grants even less attractive to ISPs. It’s clear that these states did not sit with ISPs and discuss their ideas before publishing them. That is mindboggling because, at the end of the day, ISPs are the ones that can accept and implement grants. If grant rules don’t work for ISPs, they don’t work at all.
BEAD Grant Areas