State Broadband Office Special Report from U.S. Broadband Summit: Key Takeaways
The U.S. Broadband Summit, held in November 2023, brought together top leaders from across the country to discuss state efforts related to the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) program. Here are the key takeaways from the report:
Top of mind for states:
Meeting the deadline for submitting state proposals to NTIA by December 27th, 2023. These proposals outline how states will conduct mapping, identify sub-grantees, and award BEAD grants.
Finding enough qualified applicants for their BEAD projects. Some states worry that the requirements and funding may not be attractive enough for operators, while others like North Dakota face geographical challenges with remaining unserved locations being expensive to reach.
Addressing the broadband workforce shortage. This includes training new technicians, considering alternative sources like the correctional system, and ensuring states have enough jobs available as BEAD projects roll out.
Other important points:
NTIA has specific scoring criteria for evaluating state proposals, focusing on minimizing federal outlay, affordability of final services, and compliance with labor laws. States can add additional criteria specific to their needs.
States are concerned about the long-term maintenance of networks built with BEAD funds. They are urging ISPs to consider this when applying for grants and are encouraging workforce development efforts.
There is a growing need for “radical simplicity” in broadband planning and management. Companies like VETRO offer platforms that aim to streamline these processes for state broadband offices and other stakeholders.
Overall, the U.S. Broadband Summit highlighted the challenges and opportunities associated with the BEAD program and the importance of collaboration between states, federal agencies, and the private sector in closing the digital divide.
-Written by Brian Mefford, VP of Broadband Strategy, VETRO
VETRO builds software that makes it radically simpler and faster for broadband providers to plan, design, build, and operate their fiber optic networks. VETRO is the only SaaS-based GIS fiber management platform that optimizes the business value of networks by simplifying the digitization, data visualization and management of fiber assets through an open, highly accessible and precise system of record for network assets. Our map-based SaaS platform is easier to use and more powerful than traditional tools and enables network operators and ISPs to benefit from a modern, integrated, and connected digital hub for their physical network assets. VETRO is leveraged by broadband providers around the world for all phases of network operations vetrofibermap.com.