Beginning in 2024, the Federal Government will release allocations of the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant to state governments. States will then subgrant part of their funding to internet service providers, local governments, and others to fund community anchor institutions that lack access to gigabit-level broadband service.

Connected Communities include Community Anchor Institutions

A “Community Anchor Institution”, or “CAI”, is an entity such as a school, library, health clinic, health center, hospital or other medical provider, public safety entity, institution of higher education, public housing organization, or community support organization that facilitates greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including, but not limited to, low-income individuals, unemployed individuals, children, the incarcerated, and aged individuals.

How does a Service Provider or local government get broadband funding to connect your Anchor institution?

While the process varies in each state, you should consult your state’s broadband office for the specific protocols and grant application deadlines. Following the approval by the NTIA of each state’s Initial Proposal and 5-Year Action Plan, states will draw on the first 20% of BEAD allocations to fund subgrants to state-regulated telecommunication carriers, internet service providers, publicly owned electric utilities, and non-traditional broadband providers such as municipalities and non-profits with significant experience deploying broadband networks.

Service Providers and Local Governments will be awarded BEAD Grants to deploy and/or
upgrade services, is your Community Anchor Institution listed in a grant application?

BEAD funding releases by the NTIA to states will be on a rolling basis beginning in 2024. Implementations shall be completed by 2028. Applicants for state grants are required to communicate with CAI’s and describe within the grant application the use of funds to connect CAIs.

Connectivity to your CAI and within the CAI are eligible for BEAD funding

Connecting to your Community Anchor Institution may include middle mile infrastructure in or through any area required to reach interconnection points, or otherwise, to ensure the technical feasibility and financial sustainability of a project providing service to an unserved location, underserved location, or eligible CAI.

Cisco’s approach to broadband access helps promote digital equity and an inclusive future for all. Our Converged SDN Transport architecture and Routed Optical Networking technologies are perfectly designed to build sustainable middle mile networks.

The Cisco Digital Divide with Extended Wireless Connectivity design provides a total solution to bridge the gap for the digital divide. It brings together Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul radios, Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) switches, Cisco Meraki outdoor access points, and integrated security to extend any fiber or broadband network, such as one from a school to targeted areas or specific homes in the community. The result is reliable and secure Internet access to and within your Community Anchor Institution.

Is your Community Anchor Institution on the Eligible Area maps and will it be on “the funded list”?

If you are interested in finding out if your CAI is on the map of eligible locations or if your Internet Service Provider is proposing to connect fiber to your building, contact your state’s broadband authority or contact your Cisco Account Manager.

States will determine how the BEAD money will be spent, in addition to the subgrant processes and which localities and CAIs will benefit. Which CAIs are eligible and selected will vary from state to state and may include CAIs on tribal lands.

Officially, the final lists of broadband projects are yet to be written by each state, posted for public comment, scored based on objective criteria, and announced. Grants are awarded competitively; only the highest priority projects by the most qualified applicants with the best-written applications will be selected.

Unofficially, time is running out for CAIs to get the attention of state broadband offices, local governments, and service providers to learn about eligibility, funding priorities, and how to present the most compelling reasons for BEAD subgrantees to connect to your CAI. If you have further questions on the BEAD program or relevant technologies, please reach out to your Cisco Account Manager or Cisco Public Funding Advisor.

Additional broadband funding resources



Mitch Gorsen

Public Funding Advisor, Business Development Manager

US Public Sector Sales