Official Website of Shelby County Indiana Government

BEAD Challenge Process

To read more about BEAD, check out “What is BEAD” in the FAQ section.

Starting in 2021, the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act funded a series of investments with the goal of providing broadband access to the entire country. Broadband Equity Access and Deployment is a multi-phase program with requirements at each phase which US states and territories must follow for broadband money. The IBO has already completed the previous steps of creating a State Broadband Plan and getting public feedback on that plan. Now we’re in the challenge phase which will last from March 4- April 3 of 2024.

The Indiana Broadband Office (IBO) is required to create a “Challenge Process” through which a unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or broadband service provider may submit a challenge as to whether a particular broadband serviceable location is unserved or underserved. A location must be unserved or underserved in order to be eligible for BEAD funds.

Here’s what you need to know

What does “unserved” and “underserved” mean?
“Unserved” refers to any location without access to internet which provides the federally required minimum speed of at least 25mbps download and 3mbps upload. This definition also applies to any areas where the only type of internet service available is satellite. “Underserved” refers to any location without access to internet speeds of at least 100mbps download and 20 mbps upload.

What kind of information will be collected and submitted for a challenge?
Only locations where the information about available service is incorrect will be submitted during the challenge process. Typically, this will mean that a location may be marked as “served” when speed test results and other evidence shows that it is actually unserved or underserved.

If you are unserved/underserved and there’s already data to support this, your information will not be needed for a challenge. But do not worry, it is still a good thing that your location is marked correctly even if you don’t have adequate service at this time! That means it is eligible to be included in plans for future broadband improvements and may already be earmarked for such.

How do I submit a challenge?
Individuals themselves will not directly submit a challenge to the IBO. Instead, individuals should reach out to their unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or broadband service provider to initiate a challenge request on their behalf.

Eventually, there will be a portal where members of the public can submit “leads” to their local government as to which addresses/locations should be considered for a challenge. Until that portal is ready, people wishing to submit their information for a challenge can contact Reneisha Rudder at the SIRPC for assistance.

The Challenge Process Timeline

The window for the challenge process opens soon on March 4, after which eligible entities submitting challenges will have until April 3, 2024 to do so.

Read more about the Indiana Broadband Office’s efforts during the BEAD Challenge Process here. Also look at the State’s BEAD Initial Proposal Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 for more details on what information is needed in this process.