State Flexibility Key for Quickly Delivering Broadband to the Unserved via BEAD Grants

The following quote may be attributed to Todd Harpest, Chairman of WISPA:

Washington, DC, May 13, 2022 – Congress and the Biden Administration made a tremendous commitment to eradicate the digital divide by passing the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and appropriating $42.45 billion dollars for the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment program (BEAD).  Today’s release of the NTIA’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) provides the formal start for States to apply for BEAD grants and select partners in delivering internet access to the millions who lack it.
WISPA is encouraged that the NOFO provides States with the maximum latitude to meet the unique needs and challenges they face in delivering broadband services.  This means State broadband officials can select the right tool for the right job, minimizing delay and optimizing the use of limited taxpayer dollars.  WISPA agrees that this adaptable, technologically neutral approach is the best way to realize the promise of the BEAD program.
WISPA’s members provide broadband services and solutions to millions across the country, using fixed wireless, fiber, and hybrid network delivery methods.  For two decades they have served areas left behind in the digital dust, bringing broadband to unserved and underserved areas in the toughest reaches of America.  Most of our fixed wireless members leverage licensed and unlicensed spectrum, allowing them to deploy reliable broadband quickly in response to subscriber needs.  Communities should not have to wait for years to gain access to reliable broadband and the many benefits it affords.  Waiting for broadband access results in lost opportunities.  WISPA and its members are eager to work with the States so that every unserved and underserved community can benefit sooner, rather than later, from BEAD-funded broadband service.
WISPA stands ready to work with the NTIA, States, FCC and other stakeholders for the success of the BEAD program.  WISPA thanks the NTIA for welcoming our input, and in response to NTIA’s Request For Comment, WISPA asked that BEAD funding for any particular State should not be determined until after the FCC can release updated, more accurate broadband data maps designating “unserved” and “underserved” areas.  WISPA is pleased that the NOFO requires States to engage in transparent and open-competitive funding procedures, including challenge processes.
WISPA’s approximately 1000 members provide fixed broadband connectivity, and include equipment suppliers, support services, and other industry partners and stakeholders. Our members provide broadband access to millions of residential and business customers in rural, urban and Tribal areas across America.

Mike Wendy