Guests Focus on Challenges of BEAD as Deployment in all States and Territories Begins This Year
Ben Elkins, CEO of AireBeam, Arizona’s fastest growing fiber to the home and fixed wireless Internet service provider, appeared today on the Wavelength Podcast to discuss the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program as funding to build out Internet services to underserved parts of the country is beginning to flow to all U.S. states and territories this year.
Elkins is part of the roundtable podcast, along with Diana Goovaerts, executive editor of Fierce Telecom, an industry media outlet, and Zak Raley, president/SVP/advisor to the CEO at Amphenol, one of the world’s largest providers of high technology interconnect, sensor and antenna solutions. Wavelength’s Daniel Litwin hosts the podcast, focusing on the impending deployment of BEAD funding in 2024.
“Awarding BEAD funding is a significant step in helping the United States have available Internet access everywhere. And that is going to happen over the next few months,” Elkins said about the topic. “But clearly the real challenges that lie ahead of us will require all players in the effort – operators, suppliers, national and local government agencies, consultants and others – to work together to deliver on that promise.”
On the podcast, the panelists discuss the many difficulties that face BEAD from allocation of funds to the deployment and build out of the infrastructure to support the effort, including the manufacturing of equipment, supply chain strain, shortages and training associated with labor. This includes the overall coordination of deployment at the national, state and local levels.
As Goovaerts explains, “Pulling this altogether and making it happen is the big question now. That’s where everyone has to work together.” And, as Raley says on the podcast, “Not since President Roosevelt’s implementation of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, have we seen such a monumental task ahead of us. There are some 22-25 million people in the United States that do not have access to the Internet. It will require some 3 million miles of fiber to provide access to these people. While the granting of the funds is great, the hard work has yet to begin.”
BEAD, along with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) initiative, have shown early promise in their efforts to increase broadband accessibility and affordability to everyone in the United States. As the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and states continue to work together, broadband infrastructure in rural and disadvantaged areas will continue to improve, benefiting communities across the country.
On the podcast, Elkins provides a local and state-level point of view on BEAD in Arizona and offers insight on how deployment challenges can best be overcome. “As an operator on the local level we face a number of challenges,” Elkins referenced to the podcast’s topic. “The strong leadership and working knowledge of Arizona’s state broadband director, has helped us better understand the nuances of each and every community we serve within the broader context of the state as a whole. We are confident that kind of support will make navigating the whole BEAD funding landscape less challenging.”
To listen to this most recent episode, click here. Wavelength’s new episode can also be accessed via Spotify, Google and Apple podcast.
AireBeam was founded in 2004 and is one of Arizona’s fastest growing fiber to the home and fixed wireless Internet service providers. AireBeam is locally operated and proudly serves Pinal and Maricopa Counties, Arizona City and the surrounding areas. Their mission is to provide affordable and accessible Internet access to rural areas in Arizona. AireBeam is a subsidiary of Boston Omaha Corporation (NYSE:BOC).