For operators located in the US, the $42.5B Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) broadband funding program represents both an opportunity and a risk. BEAD funding can be an excellent opportunity to help fund broadband infrastructure to deliver high-speed internet to households in your network that either have no or limited service today.
The downside, however, is that operator networks that do not deliver a minimum speed (100/20 Mbps) and latency (<100 ms) using “reliable” technologies are at risk of being overbuilt. Specifically, fixed-wireless networks using unlicensed spectrum are not considered reliable and are therefore subject to overbuild, even if the minimum speed and latency are met.
For operators that want to protect their existing network from overbuild, there is a mechanism called the BEAD Planned Service Challenge process that can help. The challenge process allows an operator that has identified locations within their network that are vulnerable to overbuild to file a commitment to deliver a minimum of 100/20 Mbps and <100 ms of latency service to these locations using a reliable technology by an established date. For most states and territories, this date is June 30th 2024. There are, however, some states with different dates so it’s important to check with your relevant state broadband office(s) first.
How the Challenge Works
In order for a challenge to be successful, the operator must provide documentation proving they are either in the process of — or will soon be — building infrastructure to service the identified locations. To substantiate a planned service challenge, an operator will need to submit the following:
- Maximum advertised download speed in Mbps
- Maximum advertised upload speed in Mbps
- Technology type of service (code 71 and, where permitted, code 72)
- Confirmation that the roundtrip latency will not exceed 100 ms
- An attestation to confirm service will be deployed to the locations included in the challenge no later than June 30th 2024 (or the appropriate date as supplied by the state)
- Evidence the deployment is on track to be completed on time, which should include a minimum of:
- Planned network diagrams
- Evidence all necessary permits have been obtained
- Inspection results
- Construction contracts or invoices
- Any other evidence to demonstrate the deployment is in process
Challenge Window Deadline
If you are considering filing a challenge, take note: many states will soon open a 30-day window during which challenges may be filed. This window will vary by state; a few have already completed their challenge process, and several currently have an open window. Most states are expected to have completed their challenge process by the end of February or early March, so time is of the essence.
How Tarana Can Help Defend Your Network
Tarana’s CBRS G1 product meets the NTIA’s definition of reliable broadband service and gives operators the ability to provide hundreds of megabits of service well under the latency requirement. Just as important, G1’s proven performance over non-line-of-sight links and in the face of RF interference, provides operators with a robust network that is truly scalable and deployable in a wide variety of environments.
If you determine your network includes BEAD-eligible locations, Tarana can assist you in the implementation of network designs to serve these locations using our CBRS G1 platform.
For more information and support, contact your Tarana sales representative or reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.