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Partnering for BEAD Success

Partnering for BEAD success

Let’s start with defining “partnerships for BEAD.” In this context, a partnership is a group of companies brought together by an RFP or RFI process to help a BEAD applicant prepare their grant application and then execute an eventual award. The companies should be able to support the applicant through every phase of the project and would likely include: an electronics vendor, logistics support, an engineering firm, a construction vendor, and others. Basically, any service that the applicant needs external support for through the life of the project should be represented in the partnership. It’s important to understand that there will not be a typical grant process for BEAD. Every state will be different and while there will be some commonalities, the process itself will vary state by state. For example, the below chart gives a high-level overview of the application processes detailed in the BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2 published by Louisiana and Virginia.

application process

Source: Nokia

While the differences are obvious (i.e. 2 rounds of funding vs. one), it is very clear that a BEAD applicant must pre-qualify and submit an application that achieves the highest score possible. The scoring criteria for each state provide the roadmap for achieving success. The below chart is a high-level overview of the scoring criteria that was proposed by Louisiana and Virginia in their respective BEAD Volume 2 Initial Proposals. As you can see, the vast majority of points are won in the primary scoring criteria. However, the difference makers between the two applicants could very well be found in the secondary criteria.

scoring criteria

Source: Nokia

So how does an applicant score the highest possible points to put themselves in the best position to win? They do this by forming partnerships to support their application.

For example, an applicant seeking funding in Louisiana could maximize points by selecting an electronics vendor with an XGS PON Buy America compliant solution; a construction vendor with BEAD compliant fair labor practices, and a logistics supplier with warehousing capabilities that ensure as fast a deployment timeline as possible. An applicant who simply leaves placeholders in the application for these pieces is unlikely to score as high as an applicant who names vendors and provides details and accurate budget numbers.

diagram

Source: NokiaSource: Nokia

The bottom line is that the application process for the BEAD program is going to be challenging. Applicants who plan and start working now to establish partnerships to ensure success will be in a much better position to win when the time comes to submit their grant application. 

Lori

About Lori Adams 

Lori Adams currently serves as the Vice President of Broadband Policy & Funding Strategy for Nokia and is a key member of the US broadband business development team within the Network Infrastructure business group. In 2023, Adams was a core member of the team that helped Nokia achieve Buy America compliance for the BEAD program. Adams is a highly skilled telecommunications attorney with more than twenty years’ experience and a successful track record in the government and private sector.