The authoritative news source for communications regulation
Western Shortfall?

States Faced With Broad BEAD Award Estimates

Some states have fairly sharp pencils for estimated awards from NTIA’s broadband, equity, access and deployment (BEAD), but others are working with wide ranges. States were mixed on whether it's challenging to plan their broadband programs without knowing the award amount. NTIA is expected to make funding allocation announcements June 30.

Start A Trial

We surveyed all 50 states and territories about their internal estimates for what they will receive via BEAD. Numerous state broadband officials didn’t comment. Others cited estimates by ACA Connects and consultancy Cartesian or by emailed that its estimates are from mid-2022 and should be updated soon to better reflect high-cost components and other knowns. It said it has 95% confidence the current estimates are accurate, plus or minus 25%, for a given state or territory, "so crude estimate at best."

It's generally expected that BEAD and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money should be adequate to cover uncovered areas in the East Coast and Midwest east of the Mississippi, but "where it gets tricky is out West," South Carolina Broadband Office Director Jim Stritzinger told us. The cost of running middle-mile fiber to reach habitated areas in the Rocky Mountains "is massive," leading to concerns about federal spending shortfalls, he said. There also are hurdles from federal land and Native American reservation permitting, he said.

State broadband officers are "definitely wrestling with" prepping state broadband plans when dollar figures are guesstimates, said Patrick Redmond, interim director-Nebraska Department of Transportation's Broadband Office. "It is really tough to come up with a concise plan without having the numbers," he said. ACA/Cartesian estimates $210 million for Nebraska, while estimates $275 million -- "a pretty big range," Redmond said, and the BEAD allocation could be outside that. He said the state's broadband planning is focused on options inside that range and also contingencies if it's lower.

At the high end of the range, Nebraska should be able to cover most unserved locations, Redmond said. It's less clear how to tackle underserved and community anchor locations, he said. Nebraska's broadband plan will be due a month after June 30, giving it time to adjust based on the results, he said. He said Nebraska will make those adjustments based on conversations with providers and other stakeholders about what can reasonably be done in a solid time frame.

Others see less of a heavy lift. “It’s not a huge challenge to develop a plan without the final estimates,” said Colorado Broadband Office Executive Director Brandy Reitter. “This scenario occurs frequently in the public sector.” ACA/Cartesian estimates $842 million for Colorado, while estimates $500 million. The Colorado office expects between $400 million and $700 million, a spokesperson emailed. “Regardless of the amount we receive from BEAD, we are prioritizing our state's highest needs so we know HOW to spend the money.” Gov. Jared Polis (D) set a goal of connecting 99% of state households by 2028, noted the spokesperson: “If the state doesn't receive enough money from BEAD to achieve that goal,” it will tap existing state programs.


Louisiana expects more than $1 billion from BEAD, based on version two of the broadband fabric, said Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of the Louisiana State Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity. The ACA/Cartesian study estimates $1.3 billion, $1.5 billion. Neither sounds unreasonable, Iyengar said in an interview. That could give Louisiana about the 10th-largest allocation in the country, which would be about as much as California and more than New York, noted the state official: It shows how large the problem is in Louisiana and how well the state has done voicing its needs.

The Louisiana office started outlining a 5-year spending plan in late 2021, estimating what it would cost to bring broadband to unserved and underserved locations and anchor institutions and forecasting best and worst case funding scenarios. Its middle-case scenario wasn’t far off from the current estimate, he said. “We’re going to make … some strongly educated assumptions on our allocation and what that means in terms of the cost of getting people access to high-speed, affordable internet.” As the state gets more data, “we’ll make modifications as necessary, but the last thing we want to do is wait until June 30 and then start the process.”

Washington state’s broadband office estimates it will get about $900 million from BEAD, said Deputy Director Erika Henry. The ACA/Cartesian study estimates $856 million, $760 million. The state office “doesn’t find it particularly challenging to create a state broadband plan without knowing exactly how much federal funding will be received,” she emailed. “There are … several reports within a relatively narrow window of estimated funding amounts, and NTIA has been transparent about how funding allocations will be calculated. It’s not necessary to understand at this point the exact amount, having reasonable assurance that some amount of funding is coming to the state.” The office can “move forward with preliminary planning steps,” like hiring dedicated staff, signing a consulting firm and engaging stakeholders, added Henry.

ACA/Cartesian projects $295 million, $450 million for Nevada. The state’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology Director Brian Mitchell said those are reasonable estimates, though NTIA warned states that estimates may not be correct and to wait until June 30. “While it would certainly be nice to know, there are many aspects that go into creating a state broadband plan, such as needs assessments, identifying unserved and underserved areas, educating stakeholders [and] developing processes … that can and need to be done even if we don’t know the exact amount,” he emailed.

Delaware looks forward to receiving the minimum” $100 million, though it has seen slightly higher estimates and would welcome more money, said a Department of Technology and Information spokesperson. $100 million should be enough to reach about 8,000 remaining unconnected addresses in the state, she said. “Any residual BEAD funds will be used to bolster underserved communities.” ACA/Cartesian estimates $115 million, $150 million.

Plans may vary depending on total award amount, but it has not negatively impacted Idaho’s planning,” emailed Idaho Commerce Department State Broadband Program Manager Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez. He said he couldn’t estimate Idaho’s allocation. ACA/Cartesian puts it at $620 million, at $320 million.

Iowa looks forward to learning its allocation “regardless of what the amount may be,” said a spokesperson for Chief Information Officer Matt Behrens. ACA/Cartesian estimates $315 million, $340 million.

Meghan Sandfoss, Kentucky Office of Broadband Development executive director, said the state expects its BEAD allocation will be between $700 million and $1.3 billion. $1.3 billion is what ACA/Cartesian has estimated, while said $735 million.

A Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts spokesperson said its estimate is $2 billion to $4 billion, compared with's at $3 billion and ACA/Cartesian at $3.6 billion.

Asked about the $1.2 billion BEAD payout estimate by ACA Connects/Cartesian for Mississippi, Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi Director Sally Doty emailed, “I have seen that number several times. I do not want to make a public projection. June 30 will be here soon enough.” estimates $1.6 billion.

The $927 million ACA/Cartesian projection for Oklahoma "would seem to be in the ballpark," but it "is making no official estimate of anticipated BEAD funding," an Oklahoma Broadband Office spokesperson emailed. "We just promise to spend it all to bring reliable and affordable high-speed internet service to as many Oklahomans as possible." estimates $1.2 billion.

ACA/Cartesian is projecting $1.2 billion for North Carolina and $1.4 billion, but Nate Denny, Department of Information Technology Division deputy secretary-broadband and digital equity, said the state originally was projecting in the $850 million to $900 million range but then started seeing estimates of around $1 billion to $1.1 billion.

Between BEAD, ARPA and state funding, universal connectivity will be achievable, Denny said. it's less clear how lower-income North Carolinians will afford service long term, he said. The state is spending $50 million in APRA funds on digital equity, but "there will be a lot more need there," he said.

The $100 million baseline every state gets "is the only thing you're sure of," said South Carolina's Stritzinger. ACA/Cartesian estimates $771 million for South Carolina, $1.2 billion. Every state is trying to anticipate how much it can get done with ARPA dollars, he said. South Carolina is deploying ARPA funding now while planning for BEAD money expected to be awarded in late 2024 or early 2025, he said. Between the two, he said, “I think we should have enough to connect every South Carolina resident and hopefully small businesses, too," plus also money for digital equity efforts. The fiber deployments in rural South Carolina could also help with improving wireless service there by enabling more towers in rural areas, he said.

Wisconsin’s allocation "will be determined through a formula based on the state’s proportion of locations lacking access to broadband service" calculated using the FCC's maps, emailed a Public Service Commission spokesperson. The state expects to receive an allocation of "between $700 million to $1.2 billion" based on currently available data, she said. ACA/Cartesian estimated about $1 billion, at $1.3 billion.

Vermont is building its plans based on "the state minimum of $100 million," emailed the state's Community Broadband Board Executive Director Christine Hallquist. ACA/Cartesian projected Vermont at $250 million, at $275 million. Taylre Beaty, Tennessee Economic and Community Development's state broadband director, said her office has "been monitoring estimates that third-party entities have been doing" and anticipates receiving between $800 million and $1 billion. NTIA declined to comment Friday.