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Program Description

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issues this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to describe the requirements under which it will award grants in connection with the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program (Program), authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, Division F, Title I, Section 60102, Public Law 117-58, 135 Stat. 429 (November 15, 2021) (Infrastructure Act or Act) also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The BEAD Program provides federal funding for grants to Eligible Entities for broadband planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption activities.

A. NOFO Structure

This NOFO presents information relevant to entities eligible for direct receipt of BEAD funding (i.e., States and Territories, referred to in the Infrastructure Act as “Eligible Entities”), as well as entities that may seek subgrants from those Eligible Entities to conduct the numerous activities that are eligible uses for BEAD funding. It is generally organized as follows:

Section I (Program Description) provides an overview of the BEAD Program, including background material related to the Infrastructure Act broadly, as well as an overview of the Program’s procedural framework. It then defines key terms used throughout the NOFO.

Section II (Federal Award Information) provides basic information such as the amounts made available under the BEAD Program, key dates, the circumstances in which the Assistant Secretary may grant extensions, and the treatment of unallocated and unawarded funds.

Section III (Eligibility Information) describes entities eligible for BEAD Program grants (generally, States and Territories of the United States), requirements relating to the provision of matching funds by Eligible Entities and/or other actors, and circumstances that might warrant waiver of the match requirements.

Section IV (Program Sequencing, Structure, and Requirements) provides information regarding the BEAD Program’s structure, describing in detail the nine principal steps in the

process: 

  • (1) the Letter of Intent, 
  • (2) the Request for Initial Planning Funds, 
  • (3) the Five-Year Action Plan, 
  • (4) Program Fund Allocation and the Notice of Available Amounts, 
  • (5) the Initial Proposal, 
  • (6) the Challenge Process, 
  • (7) the Subgrantee Selection Process, 
  • (8) the 20 Percent Funding Release, and 
  • (9) the Final Proposal and Release of Remaining Funds. NTIA urges entities seeking to participate in the BEAD Program as Eligible Entities or as subgrantees to review this section especially closely. NTIA plans to provide detailed technical assistance to Eligible Entities regarding all matters addressed in this section.

Section V (Application and Submission Information) sets out information regarding how Eligible Entities may apply for and use BEAD Program funding, including a link to the online application portal, formatting instructions, certification requirements, submission timelines, and eligible uses for funding. It also provides information regarding certifications that prospective subgrantees must make in order to be eligible for subgrants.

Section VI (Application Review Information) briefly describes the review process that NTIA will undertake in assessing submissions by Eligible Entities in connection with the BEAD Program.1

Section VII (Federal Award Administration Information) explains the process NTIA will employ to approve applications, notify successful and unsuccessful applicants of the process’s results, and various legal obligations applicable to grant recipients (including, but not limited to, those relating to domestic procurement preferences (“Buy American” requirements) and contracting with small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms).

Section VIII (Federal Awarding Agency Contacts) provides contact information for individuals to whom interested parties may direct inquiries regarding the BEAD Program.

Section IX (Other Information) details information regarding topics including audit and reporting requirements, mandatory transparency, accountability, and oversight measures, and consequences associated with the unauthorized use of BEAD Program funds.

B. Overview

1. Background

In recent decades, access to the internet has played a critical and growing role in the ways in which Americans work, learn, receive health care, and participate in democracy. The COVID-19 pandemic crystalized what many have known for a very long time: High-speed internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity, for all Americans, regardless of their age, race, or income, irrespective of where they live, what languages they speak, what resources they have at their disposal, and what specific challenges they may face in their daily lives.

Recognizing broadband’s fundamental role in today’s society and its centrality to our nation’s continued health and prosperity, President Biden has pledged to make sure that every American has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet. Full participation in our twenty-first century economy requires no less. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. Yet affordable, reliable, high- speed internet access has remained elusive to many for too long, because they live in a location where no service is available, the speed or quality of the service available is unreliable, or the offering available is unaffordable or inadequate. Internet connectivity itself is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for eradicating the digital divide. Many on the wrong side of that divide require equipment, digital skills, financial resources, and more to realize the internet’s full potential. Those who lack these resources face substantial barriers to digital equity, even in places where fast broadband connections are physically available. This digital divide is particularly acute for communities of color, Tribal nations, and lower-income areas and spans both urban and rural areas of the country.

Passed on a bipartisan basis, the Infrastructure Act includes $42.45 billion to create the BEAD Program. The law charges NTIA—the President’s chief advisor on telecommunications and information policy matters, housed within the United States Department of Commerce (DOC)— with administering this program.

This NOFO describes how, in partnership with other federal actors, as well as States, Territories, Tribal nations, cities, towns, counties and other localities, the non-profit sector, academia, unions and worker organizations, and industry, NTIA intends to administer the BEAD Program. This program will lay critical groundwork for widespread access, affordability, equity, and adoption of broadband, create good-paying jobs; grow economic opportunities, including for local workers, provide increased access to healthcare services, enrich educational experiences of students, close long-standing equity gaps, and improve the overall quality of life across America.

The Program’s principal focus will be on deploying broadband service to unserved locations (those without any broadband service at all or with broadband service offering speeds below 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream/3 Mbps upstream) and underserved locations (those without broadband service offering speeds of 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream). Eligible Entities that demonstrate they will be able to ensure service to all unserved and underserved locations will be free to propose plans that use remaining funds in a wide variety of ways, but NTIA underscores its strong preference that Eligible Entities also ensure deployment of gigabit connections to community anchor institutions such as libraries and community centers that lack such connectivity. Eligible Entities can apply any additional funding to pursue eligible access-, adoption-, and equity-related uses, as well as any other uses approved by the Assistant Secretary that support the Program’s goals.

With respect to the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure, the Program prioritizes projects designed to provide fiber connectivity directly to the end user. It also requires all projects to provide a low-cost option to eligible subscribers, requires all states to have plans to address middle-class affordability, and further prioritizes proposals that improve affordability to ensure that networks built using taxpayer dollars are accessible to all Americans. The framework set out below will provide Eligible Entities flexibility to pursue deployments in the manner best suited to their populations – including, for example, the deployment of Wi-Fi service within multi-family buildings.

NTIA envisions and welcomes extensive coordination and cooperation with all relevant stakeholders. States and Territories have an important statutory role in the BEAD process. Localities and groups representing historically excluded communities can and must make their voices heard to ensure that longstanding equity gaps are finally closed. Existing broadband providers and new entrants must communicate well with Federal, State, Territorial, local, and Tribal partners to ensure that deployments proceed as expected and that non-deployment activities are designed and implemented in ways that most benefit the communities they are designed to serve. And, of course, NTIA urges individual stakeholders to engage throughout the process—with NTIA, with State, Territorial, and Tribal Governments, with providers, and with civil society groups—to ensure that this historic investment effectuates the purposes of the Infrastructure Act.

2. Process Overview

Successful execution of the BEAD Program will require close collaboration between NTIA, as the Program administrator, and the Eligible Entities, which must ensure that affordable, reliable, high-speed internet is accessible at every location within their jurisdictions and that other BEAD Program objectives are achieved. Eligible Entities, in turn, can succeed only by committing to close and ongoing coordination with their political subdivisions, subgrantees, and outside stakeholders, including current and prospective broadband providers, citizens, civil rights- and equity-focused organizations, community-based organizations, civil society and consumer- focused groups, unions and worker organizations, workforce boards, economic development organizations, schools, community colleges, neighborhood and housing associations, and the communities that stand to benefit from these unprecedented investments.

The Assistant Secretary and the staff of NTIA look forward to close communication during all phases of the process described in this NOFO. Broadly speaking, the process contemplated by the Infrastructure Act and this NOFO is as follows:


 

State Description 

 

 

 

Letter of Intent

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2022 is the deadline for an Eligible Entity to submit a Letter of Intent to participate in the Program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request for Initial Planning Funds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either with its Letter of Intent or afterwards, an Eligible Entity that is a State (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) may request up to $5,000,000 in Initial Planning Funds. American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands each may request up to $1,250,000. Each Eligible Entity’s Initial Planning Funds will be drawn from that Eligible Entity’s Minimum Initial Allocation. If the Eligible Entity requests Initial Planning Funds, it must submit an application for Initial Planning Funds by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) August 15, 2022, and a Five-Year Action Plan within 270 days of receipt of Initial Planning Funds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice of Available Amounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

On or after the date on which the Broadband DATA Maps are made public, the Assistant Secretary will notify each Eligible Entity of the estimated amount of funding that NTIA will make available to the Eligible Entity under the Program (Notice of Available Amounts) and invite the submission of an initial grant proposal (Initial Proposal) and a final grant proposal (Final Proposal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Assistance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading up to submission of the Initial Proposal and throughout the remainder of the process, NTIA will provide support and technical assistance to help ensure that the Eligible Entity’s proposals fully meet the requirements of the Infrastructure Act and the goals of the Program. This technical assistance will include iterative feedback on draft Initial and Final Proposals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Proposal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eligible Entities will have 180 days from receipt of the Notice of Available Amounts to develop and submit an Initial Proposal, which will, among other things, describe the competitive process the Eligible Entity proposes to use to select subgrantees to construct broadband projects. Prior to submission to NTIA, the Initial Proposal must be made available for public comment, and the Initial Proposal must incorporate local coordination feedback for the Assistant Secretary’s review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge Process

 

 

 

 

 

 

After submission of its Initial Proposal and before allocating BEAD funds received for the deployment of broadband networks to subgrantees, an Eligible Entity must conduct a challenge process. Under this process, a unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or broadband service provider can challenge a determination made by the Eligible Entity in the Initial Proposal as to whether a particular location or community anchor institution within the jurisdiction of the Eligible Entity is eligible for the grant funds, including whether a particular location is unserved or underserved, and Eligible Entities must submit any successful challenges to NTIA for review and approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Funding Availability

 

 

 

 

 

 

NTIA will review Initial Proposals as expeditiously as possible. Once an Initial Proposal is approved, NTIA will make available to the Eligible Entity not less than 20 percent of the total grant funds allocated to the Eligible Entity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subgrantee Selection

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Eligible Entity may initiate its competitive subgrantee selection process upon approval of its Initial Proposal and will have up to one year to conduct additional local coordination, complete the selection process, and submit a Final Proposal to NTIA. NTIA will provide support and technical assistance to help ensure that the Final Proposal fully meets the requirements of the Infrastructure Act and the goals of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the Program. The Eligible Entity may, at this point, utilize the funding provided (not less than 20 percent of the Eligible Entity’s total grant funds) to initiate certain eligible activities (see Section IV.B.8) before submission and approval of their Final Proposals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Proposal

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Eligible Entity has selected subgrantees and otherwise executed its approved Initial Proposal, it will submit to NTIA a Final Proposal describing how it complied with that Initial Proposal and the results of its processes. NTIA will award the remaining funds allocated to the Eligible Entity upon approval of the Eligible Entity’s Final Proposal, and Eligible Entities will initiate their subgrants for the remaining 80 percent of funding and any portion of the original 20 percent that the Eligible Entity has not yet awarded as a subgrant. Prior to submission to NTIA the Final Proposal must be made available for public comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing Monitoring, Reporting, and Performance Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the BEAD Program, NTIA will conduct ongoing monitoring of an Eligible Entity’s progress against its plans and ensure that the requirements of the Infrastructure Act are met. Eligible Entities will be required to comply with reporting requirements and monitor subgrantee compliance.

 

 

 


 

NTIA strongly encourages each Eligible Entity participating in the BEAD Program to concurrently participate in the programs established under the Digital Equity Act of 2021, which provides $2.75 billion to further advance federal goals relating to digital equity and digital inclusion. Just as the BEAD Program begins with a Five-Year Action Plan, the Digital Equity Act begins with State Digital Equity Planning Grants, which is the subject of a separate NOFO. Eligible Entities should view this NOFO and the State Digital Equity Planning Grant NOFO holistically as complementary efforts aimed at a singular, unified objective of closing the digital divide.

The Five-Year Action Plan that an Eligible Entity develops for the BEAD Program should therefore incorporate the Eligible Entity’s State Digital Equity Plan, as an Eligible Entity cannot have a Five-Year Action Plan that does not address digital equity. Moreover, Initial Proposals and Final Proposals developed for the BEAD Program should be informed by and be complementary to and closely integrated with the Eligible Entity’s Five-Year Action Plans and State Digital Equity Plans to address the goal of universal broadband access and adoption. So too each Eligible Entity should ensure overlap—or at least substantial interaction—between those tasked with developing the Five-Year Action Plan, Initial Proposal, Final Proposal, and State Digital Equity Plan. For example, Eligible Entities should ensure coordination between BEAD planning teams and State Digital Equity planning teams and should establish a formal and direct communication and collaboration pathway between the teams that remain in place throughout the entire planning process. This will be particularly important to reduce the burden and confusion on community stakeholders when fulfilling the local coordination requirements in this NOFO.

NTIA is committed to working closely with, and providing support and technical assistance to, Eligible Entities to help ensure that the Initial Proposals and Final Proposals fully meet the requirements of the Infrastructure Act and the goals of the Program. NTIA will provide submission templates throughout the process to provide clarity on expectations and reduce the administrative burden on Eligible Entities. When the Final Proposals have been approved and Eligible Entities begin to initiate Program activities, NTIA will work closely with the Eligible Entities to monitor progress, troubleshoot, and provide technical assistance as necessary and appropriate.

C. Definitions

The following definitions are applicable to the BEAD Program:

  • (a) Aging Individual—The term “aging individual” means an individual who is 60 years of age or older.2
  • (b) Assistant Secretary—The term “Assistant Secretary” means the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information or the individual who holds any successor position.
  • (c) Broadband; Broadband Service—The term “broadband” or “broadband service” has the meaning given the term “broadband internet access service” in Section 8.1(b) of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation, meaning it is a mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up internet access service. This term also encompasses any service that the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in the previous sentence or that is used to evade the protections set forth in this part.
  • (d) Broadband DATA Maps—The term “Broadband DATA Maps” means the maps created by the Federal Communications Commission under Section 802(c)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. § 642(c)(1)).
  • (e) Commission—The term “Commission” means the Federal Communications Commission.
  • (f) Community Anchor Institution (CAI)—The term “community anchor institution” means an entity such as a school, library, health clinic, health center, hospital or other medical provider, public safety entity, institution of higher education, public housing organization3, or community support organization that facilitates greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including, but not limited to, low-income individuals, unemployed individuals, children, the incarcerated, and aged individuals. An Eligible Entity may propose to NTIA that additional types of institutions should qualify as CAIs within the entity’s territory. If so, the Eligible Entity shall explain why it has determined that the institution or type of institution should be treated as such and affirm that the institution or class of institutions facilitates greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals, unemployed individuals, children, the incarcerated, and aged individuals.
  • (g) Digital Equity—The term “digital equity” means the condition in which individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States.4
  • (h) Eligible Community Anchor Institution—The term “eligible community anchor institution” means a community anchor institution that lacks access to Gigabit-level broadband service.
  • (i) Eligible Entity—The term “Eligible Entity” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or, in the case of an application failure, a political subdivision or consortium of political subdivisions that is serving as a Substitute Entity.
  • (j) Eligible Subscriber—The term “Eligible Subscriber” means any household seeking to subscribe to broadband internet access service that (1) qualifies for the Affordable Connectivity Program5 (ACP) or any successor program, or (2) is a member of a household that meets any of the following criteria:
    • A) Household income for the most recently completed calendar year was at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
    • B) Any member of the household receives benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans and Survivors Pension benefit, or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children;
    • C) Any member of the household participates in Tribal specific assistance programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, Tribal Head Start, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
    • D) Any member of the household has applied for and been approved to receive benefits under the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, or at least one member of the household is enrolled in a school or school district that participates in the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
    • E) Any member of the household received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
    • F) The household meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low- income internet program; or
    • G) The household satisfies any other additional criteria proposed by the Eligible Entity in its Initial Proposal and Final Proposal and approved by the Assistant Secretary.
  • (k) Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold— an “Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold” is a BEAD subsidy cost per location to be utilized during the subgrantee selection process described in Section IV.B.7 of this NOFO above which an Eligible Entity may decline to select a proposal if use of an alternative technology meeting the BEAD Program’s technical requirements would be less expensive.6
  • (l) Funded Network—The term “Funded Network” means any broadband network deployed and/or upgraded with BEAD Program funds.
  • (m) High-Cost Area—The term “high-cost area” means an unserved area in which the cost of building out broadband service is higher, as compared with the average cost of building out broadband service in unserved areas in the United States (as determined by the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Commission), incorporating factors that include— (I) the remote location of the area; (II) the lack of population density of the area; (III) the unique topography of the area; (IV) a high rate of poverty in the area; or (V) any other factor identified by the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the Commission, that contributes to the higher cost of deploying broadband service in the area. For purposes of defining “high-cost area,” the term “unserved area” means an area in which not less than 80 percent of broadband-serviceable locations are unserved locations. NTIA will release further information regarding the identification of high-cost areas for purposes of BEAD funding allocations at a later date.
  • (n) Location; Broadband-Serviceable Location — The terms “location” and “broadband serviceable location” mean “a business or residential location in the United States at which fixed broadband Internet access service is, or can be, installed.”7
  • (o) Middle Mile Infrastructure — The term “middle mile infrastructure” (A) means any broadband infrastructure that does not connect directly to an end-user location community anchor institution; and (B) includes—(i) leased dark fiber, interoffice transport, backhaul, carrier-neutral internet exchange facilities, carrier-neutral submarine cable landing stations, undersea cables, transport connectivity to data centers, special access transport, and other similar services; and (ii) wired or private wireless broadband infrastructure, including microwave capacity, radio tower access, and other services or infrastructure for a private wireless broadband network, such as towers, fiber, and microwave links.
  • (p) Non-Traditional Broadband Provider—The term “non-traditional broadband provider” means an electric cooperative, nonprofit organization, public-private partnership, public or private utility, public utility district, Tribal entity, or local government (including any unit, subdivision, authority, or consortium of local governments) that provides or will provide broadband services.
  • (q) Open Access— The term “open access” refers to an arrangement in which the subgrantee offers nondiscriminatory access to and use of its network on a wholesale basis to other providers seeking to provide broadband service to end-user locations, at just and reasonable wholesale rates for the useful life of the subsidized network assets. For this purpose, “just and reasonable wholesale rates” means rates that include a discount from the provider’s retail rates reflecting the costs that the subgrantee avoids by virtue of not providing retail service to the end user location (including, for example, marketing, billing, and collection-related costs).
  • (r) Priority Broadband Project—The term “Priority Broadband Project” means a project that will provision service via end-to-end fiber-optic facilities to each end-user premises.9 An Eligible Entity may disqualify any project that might otherwise qualify as a Priority Broadband Project from Priority Broadband Project status, with the approval of the Assistant Secretary, on the basis that the location surpasses the Eligible Entity’s Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold (as described in Section IV.B.7 below), or for other valid reasons subject to approval by the Assistant Secretary.
  • (s) Program—The term “Program” means the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program.
  • (t) Project—The term “project” means an undertaking by a subgrantee to construct and deploy infrastructure for the provision of broadband service. A “project” may constitute a single unserved or underserved broadband-serviceable location, or a grouping of broadband-serviceable locations in which not less than 80 percent of broadband-serviceable locations served by the project are unserved locations or underserved locations.
  • (u) Reliable Broadband Service—The term “Reliable Broadband Service” means broadband service that the Broadband DATA Maps show is accessible to a location via:10 (i) fiber-optic technology;11 (ii) Cable Modem/ Hybrid fiber-coaxial technology;12 (iii) digital subscriber line (DSL) technology;13 or (iv) terrestrial fixed wireless technology utilizing entirely licensed spectrum or using a hybrid of licensed and unlicensed spectrum.14
  • (v) State—The term “State” means, for the purposes of the BEAD Program, any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
  • (w) Subgrantee/Subrecipient—The term “subgrantee” or “subrecipient” means an entity that receives grant funds from an Eligible Entity to carry out eligible activities.15
  • (x) Territory— The term “Territory” means, for the purposes of the BEAD Program, American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • (y) Tribal Lands— The term “Tribal Lands” means (A) any land located within the boundaries of— (i) an Indian reservation, pueblo, or rancheria; or (ii) a former reservation within Oklahoma; (B) any land not located within the boundaries of an Indian reservation, pueblo, or rancheria, the title to which is held— (i) in trust by the United States for the benefit of an Indian Tribe or an
  • (z) Tribal Government—The term “Tribal Government” means the governing body of any Indian or Alaska Native Tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village, community, component band, or component reservation, individually recognized (including parenthetically) in the list published most recently as of the date of enactment of this Act pursuant to section 104 of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. § 5131).16
    • (aa) Underrepresented Communities—The term “underrepresented communities” refers to groups that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, including: low-income households, aging individuals, incarcerated individuals, veterans, persons of color, Indigenous and Native American persons, members of ethnic and religious minorities, women, LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, persons who live in rural areas, and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.
    • (bb) Underserved Location—The term “underserved location” means a broadband-serviceable location that is (a) not an unserved location, and (b) that the Broadband DATA Maps show as lacking access to Reliable Broadband Service offered with—(i) a speed of not less than 100 Mbps for downloads; and (ii) a speed of not less than 20 Mbps for uploads; and (iii) latency less than or equal to 100 milliseconds.17
    • (cc) Underserved Service Project—The term “Underserved Service Project” means a project in which not less than 80 percent of broadband-serviceable locations served by the project are unserved locations or underserved locations. An “Underserved Service Project” may be as small as a single underserved broadband-serviceable location.
    • (dd) Unserved Location—The term “unserved location” means a broadband-serviceable location that the Broadband DATA Maps show as (a) having no access to broadband service, or (b) lacking access to Reliable Broadband Service offered with—(i) a speed of not less than 25 Mbps for downloads; and (ii) a speed of not less than 3 Mbps for uploads; and (iii) latency less than or equal to 100 milliseconds.18
    • (ee) Unserved Service Project—The term “Unserved Service Project” means a project in which not less than 80 percent of broadband-serviceable locations served by the project are unserved locations. An “Unserved Service Project” may be as small as a single unserved broadband- serviceable location.

1 NIST is the entity within the Department of Commerce that will administer BEAD Program grants. 

2 NTIA adopts the definition for “aging individual” set forth in Title III of the Infrastructure Act. See Section 60302(3) of the Infrastructure Act.

3 This term is used broadly and includes any public housing agency, HUD-assisted housing organization, or Tribal housing organization.

4 NTIA adopts the definition for “digital equity” set forth in Title III of the Infrastructure Act. See Section 60302(10) of the Infrastructure Act.

5 The Affordable Connectivity Program was established in the Infrastructure Act as the successor to a previous program that has since been discontinued. The Commission in 2022 issued the Affordable Connectivity Program Report and Order, which sets out details regarding the ACP’s operation. See Affordable Connectivity Program, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 22-2, (rel. Jan. 21, 2022).

6 Each Eligible Entity must establish its Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold in a manner that maximizes use of the best available technology while ensuring that the program can meet the prioritization and scoring requirements set forth in Section IV.B.6.b of this NOFO. NTIA expects Eligible Entities to set the Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold as high as possible to help ensure that end-to-end fiber projects are deployed wherever feasible. NTIA looks forward to working with each Eligible Entity to help develop an appropriate Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold.

7 Section 60102(a)(2)(H) states that the terms “location” and “broadband-serviceable location” “have the meanings given those terms by the Commission under rules and guidance that are in effect, as of the date of enactment of this Act.” See § 60102(a)(2)(H) of the Infrastructure Act. In the Third Broadband Data Collection Report and Order, the Commission adopted “as the fundamental definition of a ‘location’ for purposes of the [Broadband Serviceable Location] Fabric: a business or residential location in the United States at which fixed broadband Internet access service is, or can be, installed.” See Establishing the Digital Opportunity Data Collection; Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program, WC Docket Nos. 19‐195, 11‐10, Third Report and Order, 36 FCC Rcd 1126, 1175 para. 126 (2021).

8 NTIA adopts the definition of “middle mile infrastructure” set forth in Title IV of the Infrastructure Act, modified slightly to reflect the term “community anchor institution” used in the BEAD Program. See Infrastructure Act § 60401(a)(9).

9 A project that will rely entirely on fiber-optic technology to each end-user premises will ensure that the network built by the project can easily scale speeds over time to meet the evolving connectivity needs of households and businesses and support the deployment of 5G, successor wireless technologies, and other advanced services. See Infrastructure Act § 60102(a)(2)(I). See also Section IV.B.7.b.i of this NOFO.

10 The Infrastructure Act defines “reliable broadband service” as “broadband service that meets performance criteria for service availability, adaptability to changing end-user requirements, length of serviceable life, or other criteria, other than upload and download speeds, as determined by the Assistant Secretary in coordination with the Commission.” Id. § 60102(a)(2)(L). For the purposes of this definition, the Assistant Secretary adopts the criteria that Reliable Broadband Service must be (1) a fixed broadband service that (2) is available with a high degree of certainty, (3) both at present and for the foreseeable future, and finds, after coordination with the Commission, that the definition of Reliable Broadband Service set forth in this NOFO best meets those criteria.

11 Broadband Data Collection Fixed Technology Code 50. See Federal Communications Commission, Broadband Data Collection Data Specifications for Biannual Submission of Subscription, Availability, and Supporting Data at 11, Table 4.1 (Apr. 5, 2022), available at https://us-fcc.app.box.com/v/bdc- availability-spec (BDC Specifications).

12 Broadband Data Collection Fixed Technology Code 40. Id.

13 Broadband Data Collection Fixed Technology Code 10. Id. NTIA acknowledges concerns that, in some cases, DSL arrangements fail to provide consistent access to advertised speeds. To the extent a particular location is identified on the Broadband DATA Maps as served by DSL at speeds that warrant treatment of that location as “served” or “underserved” but is not in fact reliably served at such speeds, this would be a proper basis for challenging the relevant location’s service status during the challenge process created by the Eligible Entity.

14 Broadband Data Collection Fixed Technology Code 71. Id.

15 This NOFO generally uses the terms “subgrantee” and “subgrant” because these are the terms used in the relevant Infrastructure Act provisions. We note, though, that applicable regulations governing federal financial assistance generally use the term “subrecipient” to refer to what the Infrastructure Act calls “subgrantees” and the term “subaward” to refer to what the Infrastructure Act calls “subgrants.” See generally 2 C.F.R. Part 200. As used herein, the terms “subgrantee” and “subgrant” herein are meant to have the same meaning, respectively, as the terms “subrecipient” and “subaward” in those regulations and other governing authorities.

individual Indian; (ii) by an Indian Tribe or an individual Indian, subject to restriction against alienation under laws of the United States; or (iii) by a dependent Indian community; (C) any land located within a region established pursuant to section 7(a) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. § 1606(a)); (D) Hawaiian Home Lands, as defined in section 801 of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (25 U.S.C. § 4221); or (E) those areas or communities designated by the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior that are near, adjacent, or contiguous to reservations where financial assistance and social service programs are provided to Indians because of their status as Indians; and the term.

16 See Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Entities Recognized by and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, 86 Fed. Reg. 7554 (Jan. 29, 2021), available at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-01-29/pdf/2021-01606.pdf.

17 The definitions of “unserved location” and “underserved location” set forth in Section 60102(a)(1) require that a location have Reliable Broadband Service with “a latency sufficient to support real-time, interactive applications.” See Infrastructure Act § 60102(a)(1)(A)(ii)(II), (C)(ii)(II). NTIA interprets this to mean a latency of less than or equal to 100ms for the reasons articulated by the FCC’s Wireline Communications Bureau in the 2013 Connect America Fund Phase II Service Obligations Order. See Connect America Fund, WC Docket No. 10-90, Report and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 15060, 15068-76 paras. 19-38 (Phase II Service Obligations Order).