California Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program
The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is being implemented in California by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Nationally, BEAD provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. 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. The Governor designated the CPUC to serve as the recipient of and administering agent for the BEAD program for California, and designated the California Department of Technology (CDT) to serve as the recipient of and administering agent for the Digital Equity Plan. Here is how the BEAD and Digital Equity Programs are linked.
The CPUC submitted Volume I and Volume II of the BEAD Initial Proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) by the December 27, 2023 NTIA deadline. These documents are not final and are subject to NTIA review which will be conducted for each state’s proposal through the first part of 2024. NTIA may request modifications to these documents in order ensure compliance with the requirements of the Notice of Funding Opportunity and recent NTIA program guidance. These volumes are not the final rules for the BEAD program. The CPUC will incorporate changes requested by NTIA into program rules that will be approved through a Proposed Decision (PD) in 2024. Consistent with the CPUC’s deliberative public engagement process, the PD will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and the public will have an opportunity to address the Commission at a voting meeting before any action is taken.
BEAD Rulemaking Updates
The link to the BEAD Rulemaking (R.23-02-016) is here.
While BEAD is a federal funding program authorized by the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021, in California the CPUC is required to gather public input in an open public proceeding to determine specifically how the BEAD funds will be offered to qualified “subgrantees.” The federal rules for BEAD give overall rules for the program, while the CPUC will set-up the schedule for the competitive process of selecting subgrantees, and specific requirements those subgrantees must follow, to build robust, high-quality, broadband networks. These new networks will be built in federally defined eligible areas that are “unserved” and “underserved” communities across the state. BEAD-funded subgrantees may also build to “Community Anchor Institutions” like schools and libraries, provided those locations also meet “unserved” eligibility standards and depending on availability of funding to serve unserved and underserved locations.
Within the BEAD federal rules, the CPUC will establish subgrantee rules, as mandated by the BEAD Program itself for required elements like workforce development and federal fair wages for those building the infrastructure. State defined affordability standards for the completed new broadband systems, and audit and risk assessment standards to protect against waste, fraud, and abuse as the networks are deployed are also required to be developed by the states under BEAD rules.
On February 23, 2023, the CPUC voted to open the official rulemaking which will establish the state rules for the California BEAD Program.
The CPUC issued an Assigned Commissioner’s Scoping Memo on July 14th, 2023, adopting the scope of issues to be decided in the proceeding and the schedule for resolving those issues.
On July 17th, 2023, the CPUC issued an additional ruling requesting comments on the content and structure of workshops in the proceeding. Comments were due July 21st, and reply comments were due July 28th.
The July 17th ruling also requested party comments on the draft Five-Year Action Plan, with opening comments due August 7th, and reply comments due August 11th. After careful consideration of all comments submitted by parties, the CPUC submitted a final Five-Year Action Plan to NTIA on August 27, 2023. All opening and reply comments submitted by parties were included as Appendix E and will be considered part of the proceeding record. More information on becoming a party to the proceeding is available from the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office.
On November 7, 2023, the CPUC released draft versions of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of its Initial Proposal. Formal opening comments by parties in the proceeding were due November 27th and reply comments were due December 7th. Interested non-parties were invited to submit comments to BEAD@cpuc.ca.gov by December 7th. Comments may be viewed below under Opening Comments On Draft Initial Proposal and Reply Comments on Draft Initial Proposal.
CPUC Commissioners and staff look forward to hearing from you, as we move through this important proceeding.
Make Your Voice Heard
BEAD Rulemaking Public Comment
You can make your voice heard in the BEAD proceeding, and read the comments of others, on our online Docket Card comment section at apps.cpuc.ca.gov/c/R2302016.
Broadband for All, Digital Equity, and BEAD Planning Regional-Local Workshops
The CPUC and CDT partnered with local-regional organizations and other state entities to host 17 Broadband for All, Digital Equity, and BEAD Planning Regional-Local Workshops throughout the state and 3 in-person Tribal Consultations in Northern, Central, and Southern California. At the events, attendees learned more about planning for these programs, provided feedback on how to make them effective for closing the digital divide, and connected with others who are passionate about digital equity in California. For more information, see the Broadband For All Factsheet in English and Spanish. For additional workshops in your area, visit BroadbandforAll.cdt.ca.gov/events.
BEAD Rulemaking Technical Workshop
The CPUC hosted a Technical Workshop in the BEAD proceeding (Rulemaking 23-02-016) on October 26th, 2023. The all-day workshop was held in the California Energy Commission’s Art Rosenfeld Hearing Room, 1516 9th Street in Sacramento, California, 95814. The workshop included an overview of the BEAD program by a representative of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), presentations by CPUC staff on key policy issues to be addressed in the BEAD Initial Proposal, and panel discussions of selected topics in the proceeding featuring representatives of parties in the proceeding. The workshop may be viewed in its entirety here (transcript here), and the slides presented at the workshop are available here. Parties in the BEAD proceeding are invited to submit comments on the workshop as part of comments on the draft Initial Proposal, with opening comments due November 27th and reply comments due December 7th.
BEAD Public Participation Hearings
The CPUC hosted two virtual Public Participation Hearings on November 8, 2023. The Public Participation Hearings were an opportunity for the public to communicate directly with the Commission regarding the issues raised in this proceeding, including their lack of access to internet service that meets their needs. Communications providers were directed by ruling to assist with efforts to publicize these hearings, including notifying customers by email, text message, and on digital platforms. The two recorded Public Particpation Hearings may be viewed here and here, and a transcript of both is available here.
BEAD Listening Session
The CPUC hosted a community engagement listening session on November 28, 2023. The community engagement listening session was held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Carmel Room at the Junipero Serra State Office Building in 320 West Fourth Street in Los Angeles, California. The community engagement listening session provided an opportunity for the public to provide comments and ask questions pertaining to the BEAD proceeding. The community engagement listening session may be listened in its entirety here, and the slides presented are available here.
The CPUC is currently hiring for multiple positions to help administer the BEAD program, and more positions will be posted soon. More information on applying for a position with the CPUC is available here. CPUC staff will be available to answer questions at multiple upcoming career fairs around California.
The CPUC is currently accepting applications for the following positions related to BEAD:
The following positions will be intermittently published on CalCareers in the fall/winter of 2023:
- Associate Governmental Program Analyst
- Program and Project Supervisor
- Program Manager
- Public Utilities Regulatory Analyst I, II, III, IV, V
- Research Data Analyst II
- Research Data Specialist II
- Senior Telecommunications Engineer
- Staff Services Analyst
- Staff Services Manager I
- Staff Services Manager II
If you have additional questions about the CPUC’s hiring process, please email CPUCRecruiter@cpuc.ca.gov.
- August 28, 2023: The CPUC submitted a final Five-Year Action Plan to NTIA, including all party opening and reply comments as Appendix E.
- July 17, 2023: The CPUC released a draft Five-Year Action Plan for comment. Opening comments were due August 7th, and reply comments were due August 11th.
- July 14, 2023: The CPUC issued an Assigned Commissioner’s Scoping Memo in the BEAD proceeding, R. 23-02-016. The Scoping Memo sought comment on five questions related to the content and structure of workshops in the proceeding. Opening comments were due July 21st, and reply comments were due July 28th.
- June 26, 2023: The NTIA announced BEAD allocations for all Eligible Entities using the most recent version of the FCC’s National Broadband Map as a guide. Specifically California was awarded $1,864,136,508.93 for BEAD.
- May 8, 2023: Reply comments on Order Institute Rulemaking 23-02-016 submitted by parties.
- May 5, 2023: The CPUC provided comments on the NTIA’s State Challenge Process Guidance, which can be viewed here.
- April 25, 2023: The NTIA released a BEAD Challenge Process Policy Notice providing additional guidance for designing and conducting a BEAD challenge process in compliance with the BEAD Notice Of Funding Opportunity. The NTIA also provided a model challenge process, which can be viewed here.
- April 17, 2023 – Opening Comments on Order Instituting Rulemaking submitted by parties.
- April 14 and 15, 2023 – First of 20 Broadband for All, Digital Equity, and BEAD Planning Regional-Local Workshops conducted in Merced and Fresno.
- March 15, 2023: Final Fabric challenges prior to determination of California’s allocation submitted to the FCC.
- February 23, 2023 – The CPUC approved an Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) to develop rules determining grant funding, eligibility, and compliance for BEAD funds distributed to California. More information on the Rulemaking is available here.
- January 13, 2023 – The CPUC submitted a timely bulk availability challenge to the FCC based on initial analysis and validation of availability data reported by the largest providers in California. The final version of the FCC map will be used to determine California’s allocation of BEAD funding. More information on the FCC map and challenge process is available here.
- January 11, 2023 – The CPUC submitted the CD-450 Application Form to NTIA and NIST to accept NTIA’s award of $5 million in Initial Planning Funds for the BEAD program. Funds will be used to create the 5-Year Action Plan and for related BEAD program planning activities consistent with the BEAD Initial Planning Budget.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) notified CPUC via letter on March 1, 2023, that the remaining $2.68 million in Initial Planning Funds awarded to the CPUC have been authorized after CPUC provided clarification and additional information on budgeted activities.
- December 30, 2022 – The FCC released the second draft of the Fabric for the draft National Broadband Map, adding 16,024 additional California locations based on the CPUC’s bulk Fabric challenge submitted in November.
- December 7, 2022 – The CPUC received formal notice of being awarded $5 million in Initial Planning Funds.
- The 5-Year Action Plan is due 270 days after California received the Initial Planning Funds.
- November 18, 2022 – The FCC released the draft National Broadband Map, a location-by-location view of high-speed Internet availability.
- November 4, 2022 – The CPUC submitted a timely bulk Fabric challenge to the FCC’s draft National Broadband Map Fabric.
- September 12, 2022 – The FCC opened the first bulk Fabric challenge process for its draft National Broadband Map Fabric.
- August 12, 2022 – The CPUC submitted an application for BEAD Initial Planning Funds.
- July 1, 2022 – The Governor submitted a Letter of Intent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for California to participate in the BEAD Program
- May 13, 2022 – The NTIA released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the BEAD Program.
- The BEAD Initial Proposal is due to NTIA by the end of December 2023.