On November 7th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its draft Initial Proposal of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The BEAD program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states. California has been allocated approximately $1.86 billion under BEAD based on the federal government's calculation of California's share of unserved locations nationally, estimated to become available for award in June 2024.  

RCRC is a formal participant in the CPUC’s BEAD proceeding. Through the proceeding the CPUC will develop program rules where they have the limited discretion to do so, such as criteria to choose competitive subgrantees. Subgrantees will carry out a variety of projects, including unserved and underserved service projects; projects that connect eligible anchor institutions; broadband data collection, mapping and planning; installing internet and wi-fi infrastructure or providing reduced-cost broadband within a multi-family residential building; and broadband adoption programs. 

The CPUC’s Initial Proposal is divided into a Volume 1 and Volume 2. Volume 1 centers around the challenge process and contains proposed rules to determine eligible locations and how eligible entities may challenge the current eligibility of locations. Volume 2 describes the subgrantee selection process and the proposed competitive process to select subgrantees to construct BEAD projects. The State must submit a complete plan to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) implementing the BEAD Program by the end of 2023. In late August, the CPUC submitted its final BEAD Five-Year Action Plan to NTIA. Ultimately, NTIA may modify the CPUC’s proposed challenge and subgrantee selection process to garner final approval.  

Interested local government entities and community-based, non-profit organizations that are not formal parties to the proceeding may also submit feedback to BEAD@cpuc.ca.gov by December 7, 2023. For questions, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Tracy Rhine or Policy Advocate, Leigh Kammerich.