As state broadband offices move to distribute grant money for broadband projects from the $42.45 billion federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the Recovery Act Capital Projects Fund, and other state moneys throughout their states, deciding which locations to prioritize can be extremely challenging.
Combined, the funding sources offer what’s expected to be the largest investment in broadband infrastructure across the United States and its territories in a generation — possibly longer — so getting the funding allocations right is imperative for states.
Viewing, evaluating, and approving or disapproving public challenges to a state’s broadband Fabric presents a major logistical issue for state broadband offices. How to keep track of all the many challenges, view, analyze and approve or disapprove of them? How to determine which communities are in areas of highest need and direct the appropriate funding to them? It sounds like a complicated and herculean task, and it is, but there is a simple, elegant, and helpful solution for state broad offices to use starting now: The Challenge Process Coordinator from Ready.net. Read more about the challenge process and how the Challenge Process Coordinator helps streamline it for broadband state offices/officials/teams below:
According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), “Any State of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are considered “eligible entities” under the BEAD program and may apply for funding.
But the NTIA requires all eligible entities to design and conduct their own “transparent, evidence-based, and expeditious” challenge processes separately, before allocating their BEAD subgrant funds. As the NTIA states, “an eligible entity can incorporate information from its own mapping data and must conduct its own challenge process prior to awarding subgrants for broadband deployment.”
Essentially, this means that as the state/eligible entity begins to consider which projects or areas should receive broadband funding and how much, they must also allow the potential funding recipients or residents of the state to challenge the proposed allocations. This challenge process includes determining whether a location is unserved or underserved. If successful, the challenges can be submitted to NTIA for review and approval.
When do states need to run their challenge process? The NTIA says “after the submission of
the Initial Proposal but before the distribution of funding for broadband deployment.”
What information may a state use in their challenge process? Again, the NTIA offers that an eligible entity “may decide to accept a broader range of information that may bear on broadband service in an area than is considered in an FCC Broadband Data Collection (BDC) challenge.” In other words, more information than just speed and latency.
What does a state have to share with the NTIA and when? The agency says the state/eligible entity “must notify NTIA of any modifications” to its initial funding proposal/challenge process proposal submitted earlier to qualify for funding awards, such as those “that are necessitated by successful challenges to its initial determinations.” Yet, the NTIA also reserves its own right to reject or confirm challenges.
As for when the agency needs states to share this data back with the NTIA, the answer is: “After resolving each challenge and at least 60 days before allocating grant funds for network deployment,” and the data they’re asking for is quite robust and comprehensive, including, “the final classification of each unserved location, underserved location, or eligible community anchor institution within the jurisdiction” of the state/entity.
Confusing? You bet. That’s why Ready.net’s Challenge Process Coordinator is here to help.
The Challenge Process Coordinator is a secure, fast, online tool with rich and easily navigable data dashboards and 100% compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regulations.
The Challenge Process Coordinator was designed from the ground up as a custom tool specifically to help states manage their BEAD and CPF challenge process. It follows the Broadband Mapping Coalition's recommended methodology and integrates seamlessly with a state's Broadband Fabric.
By using it, your team at the state broadband office will be able to publish your public map, direct selected members of the public to take reliable, comprehensive broadband speed tests, and then access the results, view multiple layers of data including speedtests and socioeconomic/demographic, invite stakeholders to weigh in, and run your challenge process — all from a single system.
With the Challenge Process Coordinator you and your designated team members can quickly see, at a glance, helpful statistics including when your broadband challenge map was most recently updated, how many challenges are currently under review and how many locations they originate from, how many challenges have been processed, how many challenges from different locations have been accepted or rejected.
Using highly organized and easy-to-read tabs, you can also click through to view a list of all the specific challenges and see each one’s real-time status using a color coded status indicator, and click through to expand for much more rich information on the specific challenge, including who or what organization originated it and where. Other tabs provide the opportunity to view challenges in-review, processed, and withdrawn.
No more messy spreadsheets, missing email attachments, or leaving out legitimate complaints. Take care of your entire challenge process in one place, from anywhere, using your existing infrastructure and the Challenge Process Coordinator from Ready.net.
What's more, the Challenge Process Coordinator is customizable to fit your state's unique rules and procedures.
One of the most valuable features of the Challenge Process Coordinator is its built-in tools for requesting evidence of service. This ensures that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions and accurately reflect broadband coverage in your state.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the challenge process, the Challenge Process Coordinator could be the solution you've been looking for. With its user-friendly interface and customizable features, it's a powerful tool that can help you navigate this complex and important process with confidence.
Clearly, there’s a lot for state broadband offices to consider when launching, running, and evaluating their NTIA-required challenge process — so much that it can feel overwhelming.
Thankfully, there's a great solution waiting in the wings: The Challenge Process Coordinator from Ready.net. By using this super-fast and secure online tool, states can manage the entire challenge process easily in a single place. It's completely customizable, integrates seamlessly with a state's Broadband Fabric, provides built-in tools for requesting evidence of service and reviewing challenges, and connects directly with verified external stakeholders — all while staying compliant with federal rules and regulations. It can help state broadband offices navigate this complex and important process with confidence.
Don’t Let Challenges Get You Down. See what the Challenge Process Coordinator can do for your team.
Ready is a Public Benefit Corporation led by a team of computer scientists, data scientists and NTIA alums devoted to helping broadband professionals solve the digital divide.