January 4, 2022
Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program: Consideration for Policymakers
As a part of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress allocated funds for a broadband deployment subsidy program designed to bring broadband connectivity to all Americans. In a new insight, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jeffrey Westling explains the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, how its funding mechanisms are structured, and concerns about whether taxpayer funds will be used to the greatest effect.
In November 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included roughly $42.5 billion for the BEAD Program designed to grant funding for states to invest in broadband infrastructure.
In the next few months, states will begin working with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop plans to distribute funding to local projects; getting these plans right will be critical to the success of the program as a whole.
The NTIA and states should prioritize investments into areas that truly lack coverage rather than overbuilding networks already covered by private providers, as well as working with states to streamline the deployment process and reduce barriers to deployment that could waste taxpayer funds.