An excellent article on the Broadband Now website, explains why some states may face delays in receiving funds from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is responsible for implementing the BEAD program and allocating its $42.5 billion to the states, which are then responsible for distributing the money to providers who will bring broadband to unserved and underserved areas. The NTIA spells out to states how their final BEAD proposals should deal with any municipal broadband restrictions.
A description of efforts undertaken by the Eligible Entity to ensure the participation of non-traditional broadband providers (such as municipalities or political subdivisions, cooperatives, non-profits, Tribal Governments, and utilities), including an explanation for awards to traditional broadband providers when one or more non-traditional providers submitted competing proposals to serve an area…
Broadband Now mentions 17 states with “barriers” to municipal broadband networks. These restrictions are largely the result of years of legislative attacks by large providers who want to prohibit competition from municipalities.
Broadband Now’s take is that the restricting states my finally feel motivated to lift municipal restrictions because they don’t want to lose or delay the billions of dollars in BEAD funding that are coming. Specifically, Maine and New York have passed pro-municipal bills over the past year, and others have debated such legislation. States that continue to have municipal broadband restrictions in place will have to explain to the NTIA why they should still have access to BEAD funds.