July 19, 2023

Commerce Department Announces BEAD Program State Funding Totals

Holland & Knight Alert
Michael L. Wiener | Vlad Popik | Derrick Mitchell | Woody Vaughan

The U.S. Department of Commerce on June 26, 2023, announced funding for each state, U.S. territory and the District of Columbia for high-speed internet infrastructure development through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. At an event promoting BEAD on July 3, 2023, President Joe Biden stated that the goal of BEAD is to connect every person in the country to "reliable, high-speed internet by 2030." BEAD, which is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Jobs Act) signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021, will allocate a minimum of $100 million to each state, with Florida receiving approximately $1.17 billion, Georgia approximately $1.3 billion and Texas approximately $3.3 billion – the highest award among the states.

BEAD will finance the construction of broadband networks and subsidize the cost of internet for rural areas and low-income households. The program will also provide users with training and internet-connected devices. The aim of BEAD is to provide broadband service to unserved locations (i.e., locations with no broadband service at all or with service offering speeds below 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream/3 Mbps upstream) and underserved locations (i.e., locations with no broadband service offering speeds of 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream). In addition, it appears that the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) National Broadband Map has been significantly improved since enactment of the Jobs Act to show more precise location data of broadband availability.

BEAD presents a major opportunity for state and local governments to use federal funds to significantly improve internet connectivity for their jurisdictions. There is, however, a matching funds requirement for 25 percent of the cost of BEAD projects. Tax-exempt governmental bonds or private activity bonds may be the source of such matching funds in connection with the deployment of BEAD funds by financing various portions of BEAD projects, including general planning, research and broadband system installations and upgrades, or by providing a lower cost of capital for private borrowers seeking to finance certain broadband-related projects. For an in-depth summary of the inclusion of broadband projects in the Jobs Act, see Holland & Knight's previous alert, "Qualified Broadband Projects Added to Private Activity Bonds by Jobs Act," April 25, 2022.

Holland & Knight attorneys are working with issuers and borrowers on how to structure tax-exempt bond issuances using BEAD funds. If you have any questions regarding this alert, please contact the authors or another member of Holland & Knight's Public Finance Team.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

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