On June 26, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced how it has allocated funding from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (“BEAD”) program to all U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and five territories to deploy affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.  Marking the occasion in a White House ceremony, President Biden declared that this investment will “connect everyone in America to [affordable] high-speed Internet. . . by 2030.”

By way of background, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) became law in 2021 and directed NTIA to oversee distribution of the single greatest public investment in broadband in U.S. history.  The cornerstone of that investment is the BEAD program, which we detailed here.  In 2022, the NTIA released its Notice of Funding Opportunity (“NOFO”) for the BEAD program, marking the beginning of the program’s implementation, which we detailed here

According to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the announced investments will increase competitiveness and spur economic growth by “connecting people to the digital economy, manufacturing fiber-optic cable in America, or creating good paying jobs building Internet infrastructure in the states.”  The NTIA announcement states that BEAD funding will be used to “deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.”  After meeting deployment goals, any remaining funds “can be used to pursue eligible access-, adoption-, and equity-related uses.”

The BEAD program is different from past federal broadband investments in that it will be administered by the States, D.C., and the five territories (each referred to as an “Eligible Entity”), with each jurisdiction running its own competitive process for determining the specific projects to be funded.  Under the IIJA, each Eligible Entity will have until the end of this year to submit an “initial proposal,” which will be a detailed roadmap explaining how they intend to run their grant programs in a manner consistent with the requirements of the IIJA and NTIA’s NOFO.  After approval of this initial proposal, an Eligible Entity can request access to at least 20 percent of its allocated funds. 

Given this timetable, it is likely that states and other Eligible Entities will be in a position to award and disburse funding for broadband deployment beginning in 2024.  In the meantime, NTIA continues to prepare guidance on more nuanced, but important, aspects of the BEAD program.  For example, yesterday NTIA published a request for comment seeking input on potential exemptions for BEAD recipients from the federal government’s framework for grants management, known as the Uniform Guidance.  There also remains an open question as to precisely how ‘Build America, Buy America’ (“BABA”) requirements will be applied in the BEAD program. 

Specific details of the allocations are available on InternetForAll.Gov.

Photo of Matthew DelNero Matthew DelNero

Matt DelNero provides expert regulatory counsel to companies of all sizes in the telecommunications, technology and media sectors. As a former senior official with the FCC and longtime private practitioner, Matt helps clients achieve their goals and navigate complex regulatory and public policy…

Matt DelNero provides expert regulatory counsel to companies of all sizes in the telecommunications, technology and media sectors. As a former senior official with the FCC and longtime private practitioner, Matt helps clients achieve their goals and navigate complex regulatory and public policy challenges.

Matt serves as co-chair of Covington’s Technology & Communications Regulation (“TechComm”) Practice Group and co-chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative.

Matt advises clients on the full range of issues impacting telecommunications, technology and media providers today, including:

  • Structuring and securing FCC and other regulatory approvals for media and telecommunications transactions.
  • Conducting regulatory due diligence for transactions in the telecommunications, media, and technology sectors.
  • Obtaining approval for foreign investment in broadcasters and telecommunications providers.
  • Universal Service Fund (USF) programs, including the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF).
  • FCC enforcement actions and inquiries.
  • Online video accessibility, including under the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Equipment authorizations for IoT and other devices.
  • Spectrum policy and auctions, including for 5G.
  • Privacy and data protection, with a focus on telecommunications and broadband providers.

Matt also maintains an active pro bono practice representing LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, as well as veterans petitioning for discharge upgrades—including discharges under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and predecessor policies that targeted LGBTQ+ servicemembers.

Prior to rejoining Covington in January 2017, Matt served as Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. He played a leading role in development of policies around net neutrality, broadband privacy, and broadband deployment and affordability under the federal Universal Service Fund (USF).

Chambers USA has recognized Matt as a “go-to attorney for complex matters before the FCC and other federal agencies, drawing on impressive former government experience.”

Photo of Andrew Longhi Andrew Longhi

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial…

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial transactions involving personal information and cybersecurity risk, and responses to regulatory inquiries.

Andrew is Admitted to the Bar under DC App. R. 46-A (Emergency Examination Waiver); Practice Supervised by DC Bar members.

Photo of Jorge Ortiz Jorge Ortiz

Jorge Ortiz is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and the Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Jorge advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including topics related…

Jorge Ortiz is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and the Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Jorge advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including topics related to privacy policies and compliance obligations under U.S. state privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act.