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The original item was published from 10/27/2023 9:09:47 AM to 12/1/2023 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: October 27, 2023

[ARCHIVED] BPU Opens Broadband Access and Deployment Plan to Public Comment

The Office of Broadband Connectivity (OBC) within the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has published its draft Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) implementation plan and is accepting public comments until November 29. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will be allocating $263.7 million to New Jersey through the federal Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. BEAD was established through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Its purpose is to help improve access to affordable, high-speed, reliable internet in unserved and underserved communities. 

BEAD requires states to first prioritize funding to unserved areas (those below 25/3 Mbps), followed by underserved areas (those below 100/20 Mbps). Once unserved locations are connected and underserved locations are upgraded, if any BEAD funds remain, they can be used for other purposes, specifically upgrading Community Anchor Institutions such as schools or libraries to 1 GB symmetrical connections and supporting non-deployment activities (e.g., broadband adoption, digital skill support, device loans or discounts). 

Each state receiving funds under the BEAD program is required to develop an implementation plan. This plan is split into two volumes. Volume One focuses on determining locations that will be eligible for BEAD funding, and Volume Two focuses on the associated subgrantee selection process.  

The OBC is tasked with drafting New Jersey’s implementation plan and is required to solicit public participation and comments. The League has been working with the OBC and BPU to help spread the word about the draft plan and to solicit feedback from municipalities. The draft Volume One of the implementation plan was published on October 24 and public comment are accepted until 5 p.m. on November 29. The League is currently reviewing the draft and anticipates submitting written comments.

Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, fmarshall@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x137. 

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