With the official notice of allocations for the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant funds, we’re one step closer to Internet for All.
And the 2030 finish line will be here before we know it.
Now that allocations have been announced, the states, D.C., and territories (“Eligible Entities”) are working through the details of how they will award funding. As they prepare their initial proposals, broadband providers are taking note of grant award criteria and searching for tips and tricks that will increase their potential to win bids. Based on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) initial proposal guidance, many factors will come into play, but one aspect, in particular, will likely make providers stand out:
In the final push to reach their unserved and underserved populations, Eligible Entities are looking for subgrantees who can start projects quickly, manage them efficiently, and wrap them up on time. To set themselves apart from the competition and win bids, broadband providers should be looking for ways to optimize project timelines.
Are you a broadband provider interested in maximizing your BEAD funding? Here are five reasons why proving you can get projects on the fast track – and then following through – will be crucial to winning bids and setting the BEAD program and your business up for success:
1. Capitalizing on “speed to deployment” selection criteria
Eligible Entities will weigh a number of considerations as they create their selection scoring rubrics. While primary selection criteria will center around total cost, matching funds, customer affordability, and fair labor practices, “speed to deployment” can still factor into up to 25% of the total score.
Demonstrating you have an edge that allows you to complete projects faster than competitors will undoubtedly result in higher scores and improved odds. Leveraging available technology, such as AirWorks’ AI-powered geospatial feature extraction software, can help you establish the compressed timelines that will make you stand out.
2. Heading off permitting bottlenecks
The good news is that NTIA is encouraging Eligible Entities to address common obstacles to implementation, including creating steps to simplify permitting processes. While we can hope for smoother permitting, it’s still best to have a plan. Dealing with multiple rural jurisdictions for these middle and last-mile installations may prove to be especially challenging, even with help.
Control what you can control. Streamlining site plan development and early-stage design with AirWorks AI-driven software will get fast, accurate CAD and GIS deliverables into the hands of permitting officials sooner, decreasing the potential for unnecessary initial delays.
3. Guaranteeing continued funding
Winning BEAD funding is just the start – the real challenge is making the progress you need to finish on time. As with most grants, NTIA is encouraging Eligible Entities to implement strict monitoring and check-in requirements to ensure projects are moving forward according to plan.
Proving you are meeting the milestones to ensure services are up and running within the specified 4-year window will be crucial in avoiding forfeits or paying back funds under clawback provisions. Getting a headstart with AirWorks’ AI drafting for your CAD and GIS deliverables can offer early peace of mind and confidence that your projects are on track for continued funding.
4. Completing more installations faster
Winning a BEAD grant could be the opportunity that takes your company to the next level. Showing you can execute projects efficiently can elevate your chances of being awarded multiple grants and growing your business. Partnering with a team player like AirWorks to handle tedious early-stage drafting could be the tool and workflow you need to prove you can manage larger workloads while staying on schedule and producing high-quality output.
5. Ensuring Internet for all by 2030
The bottom line is that millions of Americans are patiently waiting for high-speed internet access. The faster governments and providers can work together to create a comprehensive broadband network, the sooner everyone can improve their quality of life through better access to healthcare, education, jobs, and more. The BEAD program is determined to bring internet to everyone by 2030…but can we do it sooner?
When it comes to BEAD, “speed” refers to more than just Mbps. From start to finish, speed will be crucial to a successful deployment. For broadband providers like you, the key to securing funding lies in demonstrating your ability to complete broadband installations efficiently and on (or ahead of!) schedule.
Contact AirWorks today to see how AI-powered geospatial feature extraction for streamlined site plan development could give you the speed you need to win bids and make a difference in bridging the digital divide.