Skip to main content
Jan 31, 2023
3 min

Your NTIA BEAD Funding Depends on Your Network—Are You Sure It’s in Peak Condition?

Broadband service providers (BSPs) in rural areas across the U.S. have been able to take advantage of a plethora of federal funding programs in recent years. Taken together, these programs total around $100 billion in funding. Most recently, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program has earmarked $42.45 billion for last-mile broadband to be distributed at the state level. The program is particularly focused on closing the digital divide, prioritizing funding for high-speed broadband deployments in unserved or undeserved areas.

States will be conducting outreach sessions to engage with providers and key stakeholders to empower them to advocate on behalf of their communities. This funding will provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the digital divide, but it will require collaboration and input from all levels and perspectives. State and local leaders will engage with service providers and community members to develop a plan that reaches every location within the state. Some states may be required to utilize other funding sources to complete all broadband projects.

Broadband service providers have the opportunity to build a relationship with state and local leaders to tell the story of their brand and demonstrate how they have served the members of their communities. Even more, they can show how plans to expand beyond their current service area fit within the state plan to utilize this once-in-a-generation funding opportunity.

There are strict eligibility criteria for BEAD-funded projects. For example, grant recipients must offer minimum speeds of 100 Mbps in the downlink and 20 Mbps for uploads. The BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) indicates that this program will be technology neutral, however, priority will be placed on a “future proof” network, built on fiber. Fiber has the fastest upload and download speeds available—and is capable of even faster future speeds. In addition, the reliability a fiber network provides appeals to future needs of connected households, remote learning, and telemedicine.

It falls on the shoulders of operations teams to ensure compliance with these conditions when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) comes calling. The FCC speed and latency tests are conducted on randomly selected subscribers for a week every quarter, across multiple speed tiers and different geographies. There is little room for error.


Taking the Pain Out of FCC Testing

To help guide BSPs through this process, Calix has developed the leading performance testing solution in the industry. The Calix FCC Performance Testing Solution runs more than a million speed tests a month, helping BSPs successfully complete FCC testing and avoid penalties.

A key element of this solution is the Calix cloud toolkit that provides operations teams with deep visibility into network health. This includes the ability to proactively address issues before they impact subscribers—or negatively impact FCC testing. Thankfully, BSPs are now able to automate much of the performance testing, relieving the workload for operations teams and eliminating instances of human error. This means that the relevant speed and latency data can be more easily and quickly collected and reported in line with regulatory requirements.


Turning Performance Testing Into a Subscriber Benefit

By automating their FCC performance testing, BSPs can be confident they are meeting their funding obligations. Additionally, this proactive testing functions as a regular health test on the network, providing valuable insight into the quality of service subscribers are receiving. Any sub-optimal performance issues can be proactively identified and addressed—perhaps even before the subscriber becomes aware of any problems.  

Meeting the critical FCC requirements no longer needs to be a burden for operations teams. By leveraging the power of the Calix tools and platforms, automated performance testing can ensure regulatory compliance—and contribute to an exceptional subscriber experience.

Watch the replay of our latest webinar, “Are You Prepared for FCC Broadband Testing Requirements for BEAD and RDOF?

Related Articles

Jan 09, 2024 | 3 min
Dec 18, 2023 | 3 min