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BISMARCK, N.D. – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has formally approved Volume I of North Dakota’s Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. This approval precedes the state-wide BEAD challenge process to help identify areas that still lack adequate internet access, which will be announced in the coming days.

The Challenge Process is a procedure set up by each state or territory participating in the BEAD Program. It allows eligible challengers to contest the eligibility determinations made in a state's Initial Proposal regarding whether specific locations or community anchor institutions are eligible for grant funds. During the challenge process, the State Broadband Program Office will only allow challenges from nonprofit organizations, units of local and tribal governments, and broadband service providers. While NTIA guidelines state that residents cannot submit challenges directly, they are encouraged to work with local governments and non-profit entities to provide speed test data to support challenges.

This process aims to validate that the locations outlined in the Initial Proposal represent an accurate and comprehensive list of the broadband needs across North Dakota. The program prioritizes locations marked as ‘unserved’ – those with less than 25/3 Mbps – followed by ‘underserved’ areas – those with less than 100/20 Mbps.

Information Sessions regarding North Dakota’s state-wide challenge process were held last month for eligible challengers (nonprofit organizations, units of local and tribal governments, and broadband service providers) and recordings of these information sessions, along with accompanying resources, can be found on the North Dakota Broadband Website.

With the approval of the BEAD Initial Proposal Volume I, eligible challengers can now register and review locations through the North Dakota BEAD Challenge Portal. In the coming days, eligible challengers will be able to submit evidence for challenges through the portal. The State Broadband Program Office will review and adjudicate evidence for challenges, with final determinations expected to be submitted to the NTIA in the summer.

"We are excited to have received the approval for our Initial Proposal Volume One and are now able to begin this next step of the process," said Craig Felchle, chief technology officer, North Dakota Information Technology. "The end game is to cross the digital divide, and this milestone brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of ensuring access to broadband services for all North Dakotans."

North Dakota has already submitted Volume II of its Initial Proposal, detailing how it plans to award BEAD grants, and it will have one year to allocate funds once Volume II is approved by the NTIA.


C O N T A C T:
Jeremy Fettig | 701-226-4569

Alisa Cook | 701-328-7408


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