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Program Overviews and Timelines

Alaska House Bill 363

In August 2022, Governor Dunleavy signed House Bill 363 (Alaska Statute 44.33.910) establishing the Alaska Broadband Office (ABO) within the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development and also establishing the Statewide Broadband Advisory Board. Introduced by Representative Bryce Edgmon, House Bill 363 carried out recommendations made by the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. The creation of the Alaska Broadband Office has enabled Alaska to capture historic levels of federal broadband investment to bring service to unserved areas, underserved areas, and community anchor institutions. The Statewide Broadband Advisory Board plays an advisory role to the Alaska Broadband Office and facilitates stakeholder engagement.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021, Congress took a significant step forward in providing broadband access to the entire country. The IIJA set forth a $65 billion investment into broadband to ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable internet. Through this new broadband investment, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) established the BroadbandEquity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD)Program, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), and the Digital Equity (DE) Programs.

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program

The largest of these new NTIA programs is the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion in total to states, territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico for projects that support broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption. States received initial funds for broadband planning efforts including mapping, building up staff capacity, and conducting outreach to local communities. Following this initial planning phase, the remaining funding was allocated to states to support broadband infrastructure deployment based on a formula that considered the number of unserved and high-cost locations in the state. Alaska has been allocated $1,017,139,672.42 from the BEAD Program.

The Alaska Broadband Office is creating a competitive process to issue broadband funding awards to subgrantees for the purpose of deploying broadband statewide. Awards will be made for projects that meet the priorities established by IIJA, with the first priority being funding to provide broadband to unserved areas (those below 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speed (25/3 Mbps), followed by underserved areas (those below 100/20 Mbps), and then unserved community anchor institutions (those below 1/1 Gbps).

As part of the requirements of the BEAD Program, the Alaska Broadband Office was required to develop a Five-Year Action Plan as well as a comprehensive two-volume proposal that details the steps planned to distribute BEAD funds in pursuit of universal service. These elements are described in further detail below.

Five-Year Action Plan

Alaska’s Five-Year Action Plan was accepted by the NTIA in August 2023. The Plan outlines broadband goals, objectives, and priorities for ensuring unserved and underserved locations gain access to reliable broadband. It serves as a needs assessment and informs how the ABO will develop an Alaska-specific grant program to distribute BEAD funding.

Five-Year Action Plan

Initial Proposal

The overall grant program is broken into two main segments: the Initial Proposal and the Final Proposal. The Initial Proposal is further broken down into two volumes. Those volumes are the Alaska Broadband Mapping Challenge and the Alaska Broadband Grant Program.

Volume 1: Alaska Broadband mapping Challenge

The Mapping Challenge is a process to ensure the internet service at homes, businesses, and Community Anchor Institutions is correctly identified. The Alaska Broadband Office is running a four-stage Mapping Challenge to improve the map that will be used to identify locations eligible for funding under the BEAD Program.

ABO Mapping Challenge Timeline638514835220093444

The four stages of the Alaska Broadband Mapping Challenge are:

Stage 1 –
Public Review: April 6, 2024 to May 5, 2024
Initial public review of homes and businesses (Broadband Serviceable Locations or BSLs) and Community Anchor Institutions for internet speed and/or availability.
Stage 2 –
Public Review: April 6, 2024 to May 5, 2024
Initial public review of homes and businesses (Broadband Serviceable Locations or BSLs) and Community Anchor Institutions for internet speed and/or availability.
Stage 3 –
ISP Rebuttal Period: June 5, 2024 to July 5, 2024
The period during which challenges are reviewed and either accepted or rebutted by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Stage 4 –
ABO Mediation Period: July 6, 2025 to August 4, 2024
During this mediation period, the Alaska Broadband Office will decide in favor of either the challenge or the rebuttal based on evidence.

Volume 2: Alaska Broadband Grant Program

Once the Alaska Broadband Mapping Challenge is completed, the ABO will run the Alaska Broadband Grant program. The Grant program will allow applicants to apply for funding to build Broadband infrastructure to the locations that are unserved and underserved. There will be a 120-day application period for interested parties to apply for BEAD funding. The ABO estimates opening the application period in late September or early October 2024, with grant applications due in late January 2025. The ABO estimates announcing BEAD grant awards in late spring 2025.

ABO Grant Program Timeline

Digital Equity Act

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Digital Equity Act will help ensure communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy by promoting a diverse array of digital advancement projects. The Digital Equity Act includes three distinct grant programs:

• State Digital Equity Planning Grant ($60 million nationwide): To develop State Digital Equity Plans.

• State Digital Equity Capacity Grant ($1.44 billion nationwide): To implement State Digital Equity Plans.

• Digital Equity Competitive Grant ($1.25 billion nationwide): To develop and implement digital inclusion activities.

Alaska Digital Equity Plan

The Alaska Broadband Office (ABO) received $567,800 under the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program to develop the Alaska Digital Equity Plan. The Alaska Digital Equity Plan sets the vision for digital opportunity in the state, assesses current access and barriers to digital opportunities, identifies stakeholder collaboration to address challenges, and describes the actions we will take to realize our goals. From October 2022 through December 2023, the ABO developed the Alaska Digital Equity Plan through a robust public engagement process. Partnering with the Rasmuson Foundation and led by a strong focus on unserved and underserved populations across the state, the ABO administered numerous surveys, conducted a statewide listening tour, and convened statewide working groups and industry-focused task forces to understand the barriers to digital access and ensure all Alaska’s voices were incorporated into the Plan. After a public comment period, the ABO submitted the Alaska Digital Equity Plan to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) in December 2023. The NTIA approved the Alaska Digital Equity Plan in March 2024.

Digital Equity Plan

Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program

The NTIA issued the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program in late March 2024. The State of Alaska has been allocated $5,631,769.64, and the Alaska Broadband Office is currently preparing its application for submittal to the NTIA by late May 2024. The ABO is developing guidelines for the in-state grant program to distribute funds to entities working to advance digital literacy, device access, affordability, cybersecurity awareness, and other digital equity initiatives in Alaska. Details about the grant program are expected to be released in September 2024. Organizations interested in applying to receive these funds are encouraged to read the Alaska Digital Equity Plan and register for email updates on our Contact Us page.

Digital Equity Competitive Program

The NTIA is expected to release its Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program in late September 2024. No other details are available at this time.