Regulatory concerns around the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding program are top of mind for those involved in rural broadband opportunities, and the Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act is a challenge for both manufacturers and service providers.

Manufacturers face the realities of today’s supply chain and the need to provide cost-effective solutions to rural broadband providers eager to make network investments to help close the digital divide. For service providers, the challenge is making sure they get BEAD funding, and that manufacturing complies with the BABA requirements.

The good news is the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have finalized a BABA waiver for the majority of what a service provider needs for broadband build-outs. A waiver is needed if the good or product needs to be made in the U.S., and 55% of the cost of components need to be U.S.-produced goods. For electronics, about 60% to 70% of the cost of a bill of materials is in the semiconductor components, and those are not sourced from the U.S.

Cisco supported the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act because only 12% of the semiconductors available today are made in the U.S. We know CHIPS implementation will help generate more U.S. supply over time, but not within the five-year timeframe of the BEAD program. The NTIA has done an excellent job of listening to the concerns of manufacturers and understanding the realities of today’s electronics supply chain, resulting in the proposed waiver for BEAD.

Meanwhile, Cisco has been making its own investments in the rural broadband space to complement the aforementioned government programs. One example is that Cisco made a $20 million investment in a broadband innovation center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to demonstrate last-mile solutions, middle-mile solutions, and metropolitan area networks for K-12 learning at home, as well as how Webex can bring together people from all walks of life.

Another example, is our investment in integrating more functionality into our routing platforms to help simplify a service provider’s broadband network edge, make it more resilient, and improve user experiences. These initiatives help Cisco achieve its goal to bridge the digital divide and power an inclusive future for all.

Understanding available funding options

Check out our updated whitepaper sponsored by Cisco and written by the Grants Office, An Updated Look of the U.S. Government Broadband Funding Landscape: Stimulus, Infrastructure Grants, and More, which provides an excellent overview of available funding programs.

If you are an existing or emerging broadband internet service provider, request a visit to Cisco’s Rural Broadband Innovation Center, where we can provide you with a demo of Cisco’s next-generation solutions in person or virtually.


Read our U.S. Government Broadband Funding white paper


Discover how Cisco can help you identify and pursue funding initiatives for broadband access:

Cisco Public Funding Office


Reference: Revitalizing the U.S. Semiconductor Ecosystem; Report to the President


Robin Olds

Business Development Manager

Service Provider - Americas