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Maine's BEAD State-Led Challenge Process Extended Through May 31

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program

Introduction

The lack of fast, reliable, and affordable broadband is a major problem in rural, suburban, and even urban America. Issues of digital inclusion and accessibility have exacerbated the digital divide, leaving millions of Americans unable to use technology to improve their lives.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will provide Maine with a $272 million grant that will bring critical resources to fund broadband infrastructure and digital equity for the entire state. The BEAD program prioritizes Broadband Serviceable Locations (BSLs) that are unserved (less than 25/3 Mbps) and underserved (less than 100/20 Mbps).

MCA Contact


Brian Allenby
Program Operations &
Communications Director
ballenby@maineconnectivity.org 

(207) 200-5824

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BEAD Timeline

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) expects BEAD implementation to take roughly 6 years from start to finish.  In September 2023, MCA submitted Maine's Broadband Action Plan and Digital Equity Plan to the NTIA for review. In December, 2023, MCA submitted BEAD Initial Proposals, Volume 1 & 2. Volume 1 has now been accepted, and Volume 2 is still undergoing curing.

 

Click the image to the left to zoom in on the timeline.

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Maine's BEAD State-Led Challenge Process

Maine's BEAD State-Led Challenge Process (SLCP) is open NOW through  May 31 . The SLCP is MCA’s opportunity to create an accurate map of locations where BEAD funding can be deployed in Maine and represents the next step in unlocking Maine's $272 million BEAD allocation. Eligible challengers for the SLCP include local or Tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and internet service providers. These organizations may challenge whether a location has service of at least 100/20 Mbps service, or is a Community Anchor Institution. 

Extension Through May 31

MCA is extending the BEAD State Led Challenge Phase by one week, and it will now end on Friday, May 31, 2024, at 11:59 pm ET. This decision reflects the feedback MCA has received from partners and individuals about the complex and technical nature of the State-Led Challenge Process and reinforces MCA’s commitment to maximizing engagement from all parties. This extension will also allow MCA to refine refinements and improve Community Anchor Institution data for the portal experience. Specifics of this change are outlined in the Resource Exchange, "State-Led Challenge Process" unit.

MCA published an initial list of all served, unserved, underserved, and Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) in Maine in BEAD Initial Proposal, Volume 1. This list has since been refined, and the final list of locations being using to conduct the State Led Challenge Process are available by clicking below.

The Challenge Portal is now open through May 31. If you do not yet have an account with VETRO FiberMap, the first step will be requesting one through their password reset form. We also recommend reviewing the Resource Exchange, including a guide on how to submit a challenge, prior to entering the portal.

For
Permissible
Challengers

The Maine Speed Test is open through May 31, and is the mechanism for individuals to participate in the State-Led Challenge Process.  MCA will aggregate individual speed challenges that will be incorporated into the State-Led Challenge Process. Read the Maine Speed Test Guide to be sure all BEAD
requirements will be met!

For
Individuals
& Others

For more information about how the process works, its timeline, how to get engaged, and more, head to the Maine Connectivity Resource Exchange.

** Please Note: MCA has requested an amendment to our Initial Proposal, Vol. 1 to change the deadline for Planned Service Challenges from June 30, 2024 to December 31, 2024. The goal of this amendment is to accurately account for all broadband infrastructure that will be completed with private investment before the end of this calendar year, and ahead of the BEAD funding deployment.

Maine's BEAD Initial Proposal, Volume 1 has been approved! The draft of Volume 2 , including one or more rounds of curing (finalizing the document per NTIA's instructions/format), is included below. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed during the public comment period!

BEAD Initial Proposals, Volume 1 & 2 

BEAD IP Screeshot

Volume 1 includes:

1.1 Existing Broadband Funding

1.2 Unserved and Underserved Locations

1.3 Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs)

1.4 State Challenge Process

BEAD IP Screenshot

Volume 2 includes:

2.1 Objectives, 2.2 Local, Tribal, and Regional Broadband Planning Processes, 2.3 Local Coordination, 2.4 Deployment Subgrantee Selection, 2.5 Non-Deployment Subgrantee Selection, 2.6 Eligible Entity Implementation Activities, 2.7 Labor Standards and Protection, 2.8 Workforce Readiness, 2.9 Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs)/Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs), Labor Surplus Firms Inclusion.  2.10 Cost and Barrier Reduction

2.11 Climate Assessment, 2.12 Low-Cost Broadband Service Option, 2.13 Middle-Class Affordability Plans, 2.14 Use of 20 Percent of Funding, 2.15 Eligible Entity Regulatory Approach, 2.16 Certification of Compliance with BEAD Requirements, 

Public Engagement 

As MCA launched Maine's BEAD State-Led Challenge Process and subsequent Subgrantee Selection Process, we will host info sessions and other opportunities for individuals, partners, and other organizations to engage with these processes.

Webinar Recording

What Does BEAD and Digital Equity Mean For Me?

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

This event is for anyone interested in understanding where we are in the BEAD & Digital Equity timelines, has questions about what upcoming BEAD and Digital Equity funding will mean to their community, organization, or broadband project, or would like to know more about how these funding streams will work in conjunction with other MCA programs.

Maine's Broadband Action Plan and Digital Equity Plan

Faced with the opportunity for unprecedented funding, Maine Connectivity Authority facilitated the development of a Broadband Action Plan (BAP) that is rooted in digital equity, in coordination with stakeholders around the state. This plan identifies priorities for investment in broadband and digital equity, and serves as the state’s 5-year road map to bring the economic, health, educational, and social benefits of high-speed internet to all Mainers. Through the BAP process, we strive to understand the challenges and opportunities facing stakeholders from every corner of the state so we can develop effective solutions.

Following our Reflect and Revise period in June 2023, MCA processed hundreds of pieces of feedback that were received and updated the draft plan. In August 2023, MCA submitted the state's 5-year Broadband Action Plan to the NTIA. In September 2032, MCA submitted the state's first Digital Equity Plan to the NTIA.

We are greatly appreciative of all the insightful comments and helpful feedback that was provided by the people of Maine as we finalize these plans!

BEAD Plan Screenshot
Digital Equity Plan Screenshot
Digital Equity Timeline

Digital Equity in the Planning Process

Digital equity is the condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity for full participation in our society and economy.  Maine has opted to combine our digital equity and infrastructure planning, so digital equity will be woven throughout the plan and will also result in a separate stand alone digital equity plan for the state for the first time. The digital equity components of the BAP will be guided by the Digital Equity Taskforce and supported by the Regional and Tribal Broadband Partners.  

For more information about MCA's Digital Equity initiatives, head to our Digital Equity webpage.

Click the image to enlarge

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State Led Challenge Process
Initial Proposal
BAP & Digital Equity Plan
Digital Equity Planning
BEAD Timeline
Public Engagement
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