Expanding Access to High-Speed Internet

min read

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced funding for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, a major broadband access program originally introduced in the 2022 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. States have been tasked with outlining how they plan to use their funding to ensure equitable access to high-speed internet.

network of lines and nodes overlayed with wi-fi symbols
Credit: jijomathaidesigners / Shutterstock.com © 2023

On June 26, the Biden-Harris Administration announced federal funding allocations to expand broadband access to millions of households and small businesses nationwide. The announcement allocates $42 billion, as provided under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), to all fifty U.S. states, all U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.Footnote1

The Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is charged with disbursing funds for high-speed internet infrastructure deployment through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The BEAD program is one of several programs created under the IIJA that addresses broadband and high-speed internet access.Footnote2

The latest BEAD program announcement provides each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia with funding levels ranging from $27 million for the U.S. Virgin Islands to $3.3 billion for Texas.Footnote3 States are now tasked with creating and submitting an initial proposal that must include how they plan to use their funding to ensure every resident has access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. NTIA provided the following guidance for initial proposals:

Eligible Entities will submit their Initial Proposals via the NTIA Grants Portal in two volumes to reduce the delays in awarding funding and to support iterative reviews. The volumes approach will enable Eligible Entities to proceed with subsequent phases of the BEAD Program more quickly. For example, NTIA's review and approval of Volume I prior to the other Initial Proposal requirements will allow Eligible Entities to begin conducting their Challenge Processes before approval (but after submission) of the full Initial Proposal.Footnote4

NTIA provided additional information about the BEAD funding process in its Initial Proposal Guidance, including the content requirements for initial proposals across each phase. IIJA specified that states receiving funding under the BEAD program must address three main priorities in the following order: unserved locations, underserved locations, and community anchor institutions (CAIs) lacking gigabit connections.Footnote5 Therefore, the share of resources available under the BEAD Program for higher education institutions will depend on an institution's eligibility as a CAI and the amount of available funding remaining after projects for unserved and underserved locations are met.

EDUCAUSE will keep members apprised of any updates related to the BEAD program and the rest the broadband programs included in the IIJA.


  1. "Fact Sheet: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces Over $40 Billion to Connect Everyone in America to Affordable, Reliable, High-Speed Internet," The White House, press release, June 26, 2023. Jump back to footnote 1 in the text.
  2. The EDUCAUSE policy team discussed the specifics of the BEAD program, its implementation, and various additional funding streams authorized in IIJA in Kathryn Branson, "Funding Opportunities for Federal Broadband Programs," EDUCAUSE Review, September 13, 2022. Jump back to footnote 2 in the text.
  3. Funding totals per state/territory can be found on the Broadband USA website. Jump back to footnote 3 in the text.
  4. U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program Initial Proposal Guidance, July 2023, 5–6. Jump back to footnote 4 in the text.
  5. Unserved locations: Locations with no broadband service or service with speeds below 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. Underserved locations: Locations without broadband service offering speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload. CAIs lacking gigabit connections: Examples include schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, and higher education institutions. Jump back to footnote 5 in the text.

Kathryn Branson is a Partner at Ulman Public Policy.

© 2023 EDUCAUSE. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.