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Topics in this Newsletter:

  • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Grant Status
  • BEAD Challenge Process and Speed Tests
  • California Federal Funding Account (FFA) Grants Status
  • Get Involved in Regional Broadband!

Status of the State’s BEAD Grant Application 

The BEAD program is intended to result in “Reliable Broadband Internet Service” for all households, not just for the neediest households or for those only in specific areas as we’ve seen with so many previous broadband grant programs.  The stated program goal is to provide broadband Internet service for every unserved* and underserved** location at speeds of at least 100Mbps / 20Mbps (download/upload), and to provide service for all Community Anchor Institutions at symmetrical speeds of 1Gbps.

  • The State will submit its Initial (non-draft) Proposal to the NTIA by December 27.  Submitted documents and other information can be found at the State’s Bead Program website.
  • The State will solicit subgrantee applications for construction projects in 2024.
  • One of the more relevant parts of the BEAD grant for our region is the establishment of an Extremely High Cost to Connect threshold.  Locations that are estimated to exceed that cost when planning for fiber-optic infrastructure will be eligible for connectivity using licensed fixed wireless or other reliable methods using BEAD funds.

*Unserved Internet service speeds:  less than 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload.

**Underserved Internet service speeds:  less than 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload.

BEAD Challenge Process and Speed Tests 

Part of the overall BEAD application process will require involvement by residents and businesses.  As subgrantees submit BEAD applications to the State to connect unserved and underserved locations, Internet Service Providers who believe that they already provide services to those locations at “served” speeds can submit a challenge.  The challenge process will require speed test data to support claims of served, and in some cases, unserved or underserved locations.

The NTIA posted a 2-page overview of the BEAD Speed Test Requirements to help explain the Challenge Process, but the following are key Speed Test requirements:

  • The median result of three speed tests, taken on separate days, is used to identify service levels.
  • Speed tests must not be older than 60 days from the start of the challenge period.
  • Speed tests may be conducted by subscribers, but speed test challenges must be gathered and submitted by an eligible challenger (units of local government, nonprofit organizations, or an internet service provider).

You can find links to the NTIA-approved speed tests on the IMBC website.

Status of FFA Applications and next steps 

  • Town of Mammoth Lakes – grant submitted to connect locations identified as unserved, in the challenge process, response to the challenge has been submitted, awaiting CPUC evaluation of the grant application.
  • Mono County – grants submitted to connect locations identified as unserved, in the challenge process, response to the challenge has been submitted, awaiting CPUC evaluation of the grant application.
  • Inyo County (Inyo-1, Inyo-2, Kern-Pearsonville) – submitted to connect locations identified as unserved, in the challenge process, response to the challenge has been submitted, awaiting CPUC evaluation of the grant application.

Get Involved in Regional Broadband - Provide your input

The IMBC website has a Get Involved page dedicated to gathering public input.  The Get Involved page has a survey for you to let us know if you’re truly receiving the Internet service speeds that you’re paying for and another survey to get your thoughts on which areas you feel need to be prioritized for broadband deployment.  That page also includes links to other pages on the IMBC website, including the Speed Tests page and the Reporting Issues page.

  • Speed Tests – test regularly
  • Confirm your Internet Service Speeds
  • Tell us which areas you feel need broadband service expansion
  • Submit Challenges on the FCC Broadband Map if your Internet service isn’t accurately represented.  This is important as this is the current source of data that California uses for grant applications.