Unpacking Approved BEAD Volume 2s: Nevada


Michael Santorelli


April 25, 2024

NTIA recently approved Nevada’s BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2 (V2). The ACLP has compared the final version with the version that the state released for public comment last fall (the state did not make its submitted version available). A redlined version is available here. The following identifies changes made to the state’s V2 ahead of NTIA’s approval:

Subgrantee Selection

Scoring – Affordability

The state raised the minimum speed threshold for offerings from 100/100 Mbps to 1/1 Gbps.

The state also rewrote the narrative describing its affordability scoring. In its original V2 draft, the state proposed awarding points for affordability relative to its proposed model plan. In the approved V2, the state notes that it will not “prescribe a set dollar amount” for the 1/1 Gbps service, “nor does it require a given rate in order to receive BEAD funding. Instead, [the SBO] asks potential subgrantees to share with [it] their proposed pricing, whatever it is, for the purposes of scoring applications in compliance with BEAD rules required by NTIA. Providing information in this section represents a voluntary commitment on behalf of the applicant to offer the pricing the applicant proposes in BEAD-funded locations.”

For scoring purposes, the SBO will compare the proposed price against the FCC Urban Rate Study. Subgrantees will have to commit to offering this price for 5 years following completion of the network; options for adjusting the price are provided.

Interestingly, the state will award its affordability points in an all or nothing manner: “Applicants that voluntarily certify that their 1 Gbps symmetrical plan offerings will meet the criteria outlined in this section will receive 30 points. Applicants that are unable or choose not to certify that their [offering] will meet the criteria…will receive 0 points.”

Scoring – Fair Labor Practices

The state clarified that new entrants that are unable to provide any evidence of past compliance with labor laws will receive 0 points. They can receive 10 points for making forward-looking commitments.

Scoring – Secondary Criteria

The state made several changes to the secondary scoring criteria for priority projects. Initially, the state proposed only two secondary scoring categories: speed to deployment (1pt) and Technical Review (24pts). In the final version of V2, the state has created four new categories while retaining the 1pt for Speed to Deployment. These new categories are:

  • Capacity Review – 8pts – this focuses on the financial capacity of applicants and the ability of the applicant to demonstrate its managerial competency, among other elements.
  • Secondary Technical Review – 8pts – required for applicants that pass the initial Technical Review. This secondary review will revolve around questions posed by the SBO related to the “capability of applications to successfully deploy and operate the network facilities needed to offer affordable, reliable” broadband.”
  • Lower Bandwidth Affordability – 5pts – subgrantee must commit to “provide the most affordable total price to the customer for 100/100 Mbps” in the project area. There is no requirement that the applicant must keep the price the same for this service; it can propose yearly increases. Points will be awarded by comparing the proposed plan with a reference plan provided by the SBO. The reference plan sets the price at $50/month inclusive of all taxes, fees, and charges and that does not include data caps.
  • Low-Cost Broadband Service Option – 3pts – subgrantee must commit to “provide the most affordable total price to low-income customers that are eligible for BEAD.” Points will be awarded by comparing the applicant’s proposal against a $30/month reference plan.

Non-Priority Projects

The state has included discrete scoring criteria for non-priority (i.e., non-fiber) projects.

Project Areas

The final plan describes the process by which the state will create custom-made RPAs.

Low-Cost Broadband

The state initially embraced NTIA’s low-cost service model. However, the final V2 includes a different approach, one that appears to allow for flexibility in setting the price for the low-cost offering. In reality, though, it appears that the state has set a de facto price ceiling of $50/month, up from $30/month.

In particular, the state allows subgrantees to choose from one of two options for setting the price of the low-cost option. They can choose the lower of (1) the “cost of an existing, designated low-income plan offered by the subgrantee in non-BEAD markets that is eligible for the ACP benefit” so long as it meets the plan criteria or (2) a $50/month price-point.

There is not much discussion of what will happen once ACP funding runs out.