Office of Broadband Development submits initial BEAD program proposal to NTIA

The Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Office of Broadband Development (OBD) announced today that it has submitted Volumes 1 and 2 of its initial proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The submission of OBD’s initial proposal marks the beginning of the process to administer $1.7 billion received through the BEAD program for broadband expansion.

“We’re proud to build on progress made in strengthening our state’s critical infrastructure, including broadband,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Our administration remains committed to using every available resource to expand internet access for Missouri citizens, businesses, and communities. The Office of Broadband Development’s plans for funding received through the NTIA will go a long way in ensuring more Missourians can get connected to quality and reliable internet.”

Volume 1 of OBD’s initial BEAD proposal outlines the state’s process for determining eligible locations according to BEAD program criteria, while Volume 2 specifies the process for determining project areas and grant application scoring. The documents represent the results of an extensive public outreach campaign conducted in 2022 and 2023. During its Connecting All Missourians Outreach Tour, OBD visited every region of the state, holding 43 regional meetings and two stakeholder summits that totaled more than 1,200 attendees. OBD also hosted monthly calls to share updates.

“The Office of Broadband Development’s initial BEAD proposal is an exciting milestone in its journey to expand internet connectivity,” said Michelle Hataway, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “Broadband access is vital for participating in today’s economy and we’re thrilled to help Missourians prosper by bringing this necessity to more locations across our state.”

In addition to substantial stakeholder feedback, OBD’s initial BEAD proposal was informed by the 2023 Missouri Internet Survey conducted by the University of Missouri Extension. The survey gathered public input from Missourians on the state of their access to broadband internet. A 30-day comment period and two focus groups also generated feedback to help shape both volumes of the proposal.

“The BEAD program represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure every Missourian can get connected,” said BJ Tanksley, Director of the Office of Broadband Development. “I’d like to thank all the citizens and providers who contributed valuable feedback to inform our initial BEAD proposal. We’re confident that these plans will bring us closer than ever to bridging the remaining gaps in coverage and meeting our goal of connecting all Missourians.”

After the NTIA’s approval of the initial proposal, a challenge process and request for information will begin in February 2024. OBD will then open two major application rounds with the first scheduled to begin in early summer.

OBD’s plans to administer $1.7 billion received through the BEAD program follow more than $300 million in federal funds already awarded through the ARPA and NTIA Broadband Infrastructure programs. These programs awarded funds to a total 76 projects statewide to provide quality internet service to more than 66,000 households, businesses, and community institutions in high-need areas.

About the Office of Broadband Development

The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is focused on addressing broadband availability and non-infrastructure barriers to full participation in the digital economy in Missouri by working with providers, communities, and stakeholders to expand and accelerate broadband deployment across the state. OBD’s Connecting All Missourians initiative includes an extensive public engagement process to inform plans for programs funded by the Digital Equity Act (DEA) and the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, both part of the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act (IIJA).

To learn more about the Office of Broadband Development or its programs and initiatives, visit DED’s website.

About the Missouri Department of Economic Development

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) works to create an environment that encourages economic growth by supporting Missouri’s businesses and diverse industries, strengthening our communities, developing a talented and skilled workforce, and maintaining a high quality of life. As one team built around the customer and driven by data, DED aspires to be the best economic development department in the Midwest. Through its various initiatives, DED is helping create opportunities for Missourians to prosper.

For the latest updates on DED’s current or future programs and initiatives, visit DED’s website.