NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) have begun rolling out the latest iteration of their joint “Broadband Infrastructure Playbook.”

The two organizations collaborated on the playbook in early 2022 to help state broadband offices and stakeholders prepare for funding from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funds available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Developed with help from research firm Cartesian, the Broadband Infrastructure Playbook covers information from the IIJA, and outlines and recommends program structure for local broadband expansion. The book also provides successful examples from the best state broadband programs.

Marissa Mitrovich, FBA's VP of public policy, said that the playbook was "always designed to be a living document, which would be revised and updated as NTIA released additional guidance and States and Territories drafted and submitted their proposals and plans."

Feedback from broadband offices asked the FBA to "dig even deeper into the many issues" covered in the earlier versions of the playbook, Mitrovich told Fierce. This week the FBA and NTCA announced the availability of the of the Playbook 3.0’s first module dedicated to permitting.

“Permitting: Access to State and Local Rights-of-Way and Infrastructure” gives recommendations to streamline the permitting process for broadband deployment. The new module will be shared with state broadband offices and other stakeholders through direct outreach and webinars, according to a joint blog from the NTCA and FBA.

Mitrovich said one of the most critical questions that each State and Territory must tackle in implementing BEAD funding is how to make efficient investments in the most "reliable, capable and sustainable broadband connectivity" for unserved and underserved residents and businesses that have been left behind.

In April, the FBA and Cartesian announced they would develop business models for deploying fiber in extremely high-cost situations. The latest edition playbook will offer resources to help address this need, including establishing the Extremely High Cost Fund Threshold. 

"Expect deeper dives on permitting and access to State and Local Rights-of-Way and Infrastructure," added Mitrovich.

Initial proposals for each state's BEAD plans are due to the NTIA by the end of this calendar year, but some states will likely submit earlier. The California Public Utilities Commission CPUC, for example, has set a deadline of August 28th to submit its five-year action plan.

As states develop plans for their allocation of BEAD funding, NTCA and FBA will release a series of new modules over the next few months providing "deeper dives" on key topics that states will need to address in their initial proposals, including cybersecurity, supply chain risk management and broadband coverage challenge processes.

“Our hope is that this intense focus on individual aspects of the program will help state broadband offices in crafting their initial proposals and stakeholders in engaging with the offices as decisions are made,” said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield and FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton in this week's blog.

The playbook is directed "first and foremost" to eligible entities, Mitrovich noted. But, it also can be used by other stakeholders interested in how to navigate the BEAD grant process.

"For instance, residents, community leaders and businesses should use to it help broadband offices target grants," she said. "In the end, the playbook should be a resource that creates informed and critical conversation about ensuring that we close the digital available, adoption and equity gaps once and for all."

The “Permitting: Access to State and Local Rights-of-Way and Infrastructure” module can be accessed on NTCA’s Broadband Opportunity Hub and FBA’s Research and Resources page between July and October.

This story was updated 8/2/23 with additional comment from the Fiber Broadband Association.