What is the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program?

The Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program is an initiative passed by the Biden Administration in late 2021, which provides over $42 billion in funding aimed at bridging the digital divide within the US.

Through targeted funding and partnerships, the program focuses on providing equitable broadband access — particularly in rural and underserved communities — and providing broader access to engage with the digital economy.  The core of the initiative is in infrastructure development, including fiber optic networks and wireless broadband expansion in effort to ensure reliable connectivity to areas lacking adequate access or connection speeds. 

Alongside its infrastructure investments, BEAD also seeks to provide digital literacy and skills development empowering individuals to fully engage in the digital economy by collaborating with government agencies, private sector partners and local communities.  

The program’s greater goal is to build sustainable solutions that promote economic growth, education and opportunity for everyone in the country.

For this reason, the build-out will granularly target different communities in greater need, and local communities receiving these grants have been required to provide low-cost broadband service options for low-income and middle-class households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivty Program (ACP). Unfortunately, with this program coming to an end, the critical component of affordability remains a varying and uncertain problem. 

Funding 50 states   

Funding amounts are allocated strategically to support innovative projects that address specific challenges and opportunities in broadband access and deployment.  

In the summer of 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced how the funding would be dispersed throughout the states, the district of Colombia and the five territories. Texas, for instance received $3.3 billion alone — and many other states of need are receiving between $1 and $2 billion in funding. 

BEAD applicants are required to develop a five-year action plan detailing their strategies in working with its local and regional groups to roll out these networks and how they will serve the intended communities of need in their deployments. Grant Recipients are also subject to reporting requirements to uphold accountability of the funding’s carried out impact, with initial reports due 90 days after receiving funding as well as semiannual reports until the funds have been completely spent and a final report due no later than one year after the full expending of its funds.  

Read more about the initiative here.