Bennet, Hickenlooper Welcome Updated BEAD Letter of Credit Requirements

Revised Requirements Will Make It Easier For Nonprofits, Municipalities, Utilities To Access Historic Broadband Funding

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) waiver notice for letter of credit requirements that were included as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. The original letter of credit requirements would have made it difficult for small Colorado providers – including nonprofits, municipalities, and utilities – to apply for BEAD funding. In October, Bennet and Hickenlooper joined colleagues to urge NTIA to revise this requirement and allow for alternative methods of surety. Earlier, Bennet wrote to U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson to outline the unique obstacles the letter of credit requirement posed to Colorado providers.

“The BEAD program will help connect Colorado communities to high-speed internet, and small internet service providers are essential partners in this project. Unfortunately, the program’s letter of credit requirement would have prevented many Colorado providers from applying in the first place. I am glad that the NTIA has updated their guidance to ensure small Colorado companies, non-profits, and municipalities are able to take advantage of this historic program,” said Bennet. 

“No longer will red tape prevent small providers in Colorado from using the BEAD program to connect our communities to the high-speed internet they deserve. The NTIA waiver that we pushed for is a crucial step to ensure this program benefits all Coloradans,” said Hickenlooper.

The NTIA’s Notice of Programmatic Waiver allows providers to obtain a letter of credit from a credit union; issue performance bonds in lieu of a letter of credit; reduce the letter of credit or performance bond amount as a provider meets specific deployment milestones; and allow for an alternative initial letter of credit or performance bond percentage. 

The BEAD program is the largest broadband investment in American history. It provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs in all 50 states and territories. In June, the NTIA allocated over $826 million in BEAD funds to Colorado. The program is based on the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that Bennet introduced in June 2021 to provide $40 billion in flexible broadband funding to states, Tribal governments, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to ensure all Americans have access to affordable high-speed internet.