On Monday, January 10, 2022, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) commenced a public comment period for interested parties to submit comments on the development and implementation of three forthcoming broadband grant programs established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021(“IIJA”): (1) the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (“BEAD”) program, (2) the Middle-Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and (3) the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program.
NTIA is seeking specific comments regarding several topics, including:
- Bringing reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband to all Americans;
- Supporting states, territories, and sub-grantees in achieving the IIJA’s broadband connectivity goal;
- Ensuring the future of America is made in America by all of America’s workers;
- Ensuring publicly funded broadband networks are sustainable and scalable;
- Achieving universal, reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband through the allocation and use of BEAD funds;
- Establishing strong partnerships between state, local, and Tribal governments;
- Leveraging BEAD funding to ensure low-cost broadband service options and other ways to address affordability;
- Ensuring states use Digital Equity Planning Grant Program funds to their best effect; and
- Ensuring middle-mile investments are appropriately targeted to areas where middle-mile service is non-existent or relatively expensive.
NTIA also generally welcomes suggestions from commenters who have applied to or had experience with other federal or state broadband funding programs for how to effectively implement these new funding programs.
The full request for public comment, including specific questions from NTIA within each of the above categories, can be found here. Comments are due by February 4, 2022 at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
If you have any questions about the NTIA’s request for comment, upcoming broadband funding opportunities, or communications law and regulation, please contact a Sheppard Mullin communications attorney.
 Under the IIJA, NTIA is responsible for distributing more than $48 billion in funding to support various broadband programs. NTIA will release a separate request for comment regarding the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, and the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.