The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released the Virginia Broadband Challenge Portal, as well as the speed test and reporting dashboard for the upcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) Challenge Process. Under BEAD, more than $42 billion in federal funds will be disbursed to get more Americans fast and reliable internet access. Virginia’s allocation under BEAD is $1.48 billion and will build upon the work of the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to reach the remaining unserved, and underserved, regions of the Commonwealth. The portal was developed to challenge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) coverage map in order for locations that may be incorrectly listed as “served” to be eligible for funding.
The portal only allows challenges from an “Eligible Entity” to include local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, internet service providers, and Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs). CAIs are defined as “schools, libraries, medical and health care providers, public safety entities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low income, unemployed, and the aged.” Residents can submit challenges through their local government or other eligible entity. The local government or nonprofit will then upload the challenges to the state challenge portal, which in turn notifies the broadband provider of the challenge.
The challenge portal will close at midnight on November 30, 2023. For more information go to https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/vati.
VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP