Frequently Asked Questions

Funding Sources

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law in November 2021, provides $550 billion in federal spending with a focus toward infrastructure.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act (DE) program were funded through IIJA; both of these programs will be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

IIJA also expanded eligibility for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which helps low-income families afford internet access. 286,000 Montanans (27%  of the State) will be eligible for the program. For more information, please refer to the FCC Website.

The Digital Equity Act (DE) provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs that promote digital equity and digital inclusion. Digital equity is defined in the Digital Equity Act of 2021   as “the condition in which individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States.” Digital inclusion is defined the Digital Equity Act of 2021 as “the activities that are necessary to ensure that all individuals in the United States have access to, and the use of, affordable information and communication technologies, such a—(i) reliable fixed and wireless broadband internet service; (ii) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; and (iii) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration; and (B) includes—(i) obtaining access to digital literacy training; (ii) the provision of quality technical support; and (iii) obtaining basic awareness of measures to ensure online privacy and cybersecurity.”  

An overview of the three grant programs is included below.

Program 1: The State Digital Equity Planning Grant program provided $60 million to states, territories and tribal governments to develop digital equity plans. Under the formula grant, the State of Montana received $601,337 to support planning activities to develop the state’s digital equity plan for submission to NTIA. The Montana Department of Administration (the Department) prepared the Montana Digital Opportunity Plan, solicited comments from the public, and discussed those comments with the Communication Advisory Commission (CAC) before submitting the plan to the NTIA for review and approval. Refer to the CAC Meeting Recordings for additional information.

Program 2: The State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program is a $1.44 billion formula grant program for states, territories and tribal governments. It will fund an annual grant program for five years in support of digital equity projects and the implementation of digital equity plans. The NTIA is expected to announce the grant awards in early 2024.

Program 3: Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program is a $1.25 billion competitive grant program that will fund annual grants for five years.

Refer to the NTIA’s website for additional information.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. Montana will receive a $629 million grant under the BEAD program to improve broadband coverage across the state.  BEAD program requirements focus this funding on unserved locations (locations unable to obtain broadband service of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and three (3) Mbps (25/3 Mbps)) and underserved locations (locations with broadband service between 25/3 Mbps and 100/20 Mbps), and 1 Gbps symmetric for community anchor institutions.   For the purposes of BEAD, locations with unlicensed fixed wireless or satellite service are considered unserved. Unserved or underserved locations that received recent grant funding or have demonstrated commitments to be completed shortly are not eligible for BEAD funding.


To receive the $629 million in BEAD funding, the State must comply with the NTIA requirements. The Department has completed the first requirement of preparing and submitting the State’s BEAD Five Year Action Plan. The second requirement was to submit an Initial Proposal to the NTIA by December 27, 2023. The Initial Proposal is separated in two volumes. The Initial Proposal Volume 1, and the Initial Proposal Volume 2, which outlines the subgrantee selection process. Once the NTIA approves the Initial Proposal, the Department will conduct the subgrantee selection process. Within one year of NTIA’s approval of the Initial Proposal, the Department is required to submit a Final Proposal that outlines the projects selected for funding.


General Information and Resources

The Prequalification Round opened on March 12, 2024. The NTIA must approve the State’s Initial Proposal before the Main Round application process can be initiated. Updates to the application timeline will be discussed at Communications Advisory Commission meetings. At this time, the Department anticipates opening the Main Round application in Summer 2024.



The State must comply with the NTIA BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) requirements when selecting projects. Under NTIA guidelines, the State must award projects to provide coverage of all unserved locations followed by all underserved locations, and if funding allows, eligible community anchor institutions. Initial Proposal Volume 2 outlines the process the State will use to select subgrantees.


The State has designed the subgrantee selection criteria consistent with NTIA guidance and SB 531. NTIA guidance requires the subgrantee selection process to prioritize projects providing end-to-end fiber-optic facilities to each end user premises (“Priority Broadband Project”). Projects will be  scored based on the rubric  detailed in MT’s Initial Proposal Volume 2 Section 2.4.2. First, Priority Broadband Projects will be evaluated based on minimal BEAD program outlay, affordability, fair labor practices, speed to deployment and additional prioritization factors. If a Pripority Broadband Project proposal is not received for a project area, Non-priority projects will be evaluated based on minimal BEAD program outlay, affordability, fair labor practices, speed to deployment, speed of network and other technical capabilities, and additional prioritization factors.


Consistent with HB 531, the CAC will approve a process to assess the suitability of a waiver of the 25% match requirement for proposals within an extremely high cost per location threshold. The waiver process is outlined in the Initial Proposal Volume 2.

MBO will publish the results of the challenge process as reviewed and approved by the NTIA, which will include eligible locations and census block groups (CBGs), prior to the opening of the Main Round application.

Completion of a prequalification application is mandatory to participate in the BEAD program.  All potential recipients are encouraged to complete the prequalification process as early as possible.

Recordings and slides from all technical assistance sessions are available on the ConnectMT website.

Yes, a list of requirements from the prequalification application is included in the prequalification guide.


Consistent with SB 531, an eligible applicant means an entity that has authorization to do business in the state and has demonstrated that it has the technical, financial, and managerial resources and experience to provide broadband service or other communications service to customers in the state. This includes incorporated businesses or partnerships, Montana nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, corporations, or cooperative entities organized for the purpose of expanding broadband access. A government entity or tribe is only eligible to apply in partnership with an eligible broadband service provider.

In order to be eligible to receive BEAD funding from the State of Montana, subgrantees must:

  1. Meet mandated financial, operational, and managerial requirements
  2. Propose a project that will provide a minimum 100/20 Mbps broadband service to all locations within the service area within a 4-year timeline
  3. Be able to comply with all requirements mandated by the NTIA and the State of Montana
The Department will perform a subgrantee selection process consistent with SB 531 and the Initial Proposal. Companies that received ARPA funding may choose to apply for additional projects through the BEAD application process.

Submitting Application

The prequalification application window will close approximately two weeks before main round submissions close. Prequalification applications must be submitted and approved before an applicant can access the main round application. MBO is aiming to open the main round application in Summer 2024, but we will share specific dates as soon as they are available. MBO urges all applicants to submit their prequalification application as early as possible.

The Authorized Official Representative (AOR) must be the one to submit the application. An applicant’s AOR should be an individual who is legally able to make financial decisions on behalf of the organization and should be the person assigned to the “Administrator” role in the online application. Other staff members can work on the application, but the AOR must be the one to officially submit.

AmpliFund will be used for both the prequalification and main round application processes.

No. The prequalification and main round applications will be submitted through AmpliFund, while the Challenge Portal was accessed through

Application - Financial Capability

No, the submitted audited financials do not need to be comparative

Yes, organizations without current audited financial statements are allowed to submit unaudited financial statements in prequalification applications. However, audited financial statements must be provided before an award is made.

The requirements for the Letter of Credit (LOC) during prequalification only consist of providing a narrative explanation of their plan to comply with the requirements laid out by NTIA.  Per the BEAD NOFO, a LOC or other option outlined in the waiver [] issued by NTIA is a requirement to receive a subaward.  MBO will provide a model Letter of Credit as part of the materials for the Main Round application.

If any confidential or proprietary information is submitted during the application process, MBO encourages applicants to note this in the application. However, due to state laws and regulations, MBO cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality for all requests.

Application - Organizational Capability

MBO prefers that Montana-specific projects are used in this application. However, if the applicant has a significant project aligning with its capabilities, it does not need to be in Montana. Applicants are permitted to supply more than three projects, but a minimum of three projects must be provided as examples.

The BEAD NOFO requires applicants to list all existing state or federally-funded projects. While this list may be quite extensive, this is a requirement for all BEAD applications.
Yes, applicants should disclose all applications the organization or its affiliates have submitted or plan to submit as well as every broadband deployment project they have undertaken, or committed to undertaking, that uses public funds. 
Sufficient detail should be provided to enable MBO to evaluate the organization’s ability to complete the proposed project. Identifying specific project managers and engineers is not required at this point - an outline of your organizational structure will suffice.
An applicant is required to provide a Legal Opinion that demonstrates the applicant is capable of carrying out the funded activities competently and in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. The Legal Opinion must also detail any past violations or pending court proceedings. An applicant is encouraged to refer to the prequalification materials for a model template. In addition, in the Main Round application, an applicant submitting a Letter of Credit must also provide an opinion letter from legal counsel clearly stating, subject only to customary assumptions, limitations, and qualifications, that in a proceeding under Title 11 of the United States Code, 11 U.S.C §101 et seq. (the “Bankruptcy Code”), the bankruptcy court would not treat the letter of credit or proceeds of the letter of credit as property of the winning subgrantee’s bankruptcy estate under Section 541 of the Bankruptcy Code.


Application - Certifications and Compliance

Applicants will be asked to confirm that they are compliant with FCC Form 477 and BDC filing requirements.
No specific certifications are required for any position on the organization chart. However, applicants must certify that their personnel have the relevant certifications for deployment projects as mandated by state and federal law and reflective of industry best practices. Each applicant will also be required to upload a list of certifications that the company requires for each role for staff deployment projects.
Applicants must submit documentation in the prequalification application for its key personnel that demonstrates the applicant is technically capable of carrying out the funded activities in a competent manner. If an employee has a substantially similar title to the required job title, the list of relevant certifications and resume should make clear how the employee’s job title is equivalent to the specific title requested.    

Application - Risk Management

Please clearly mark any information that the applicant would like to remain confidential. However, it is important to remember that this is a public application process, and no guarantee of confidentiality can be made.

Application - Ownership

BEAD subgrant applicants must provide detailed information about their entity’s ownership consistent with 47 C.F.R. § 1.2112(a)(1)-(7). MBO strongly recommends that applicants double check the requirements within the CFR and the application guidelines to ensure compliance.

Curing Process

There will be one round of curing during the prequalification process. Each applicant will be provided with a specific timeframe in which these questions must be resolved.
No scoring factors will be evaluated during the prequalification round. All scoring requirements will be evaluated during the Main Round. 

Procurement/Purchasing Requirements

Yes, an applicant will need to follow procurement and BABA guidance as issued and updated by NTIA guidance.

The NTIA has issued a Policy Notice tailoring the application of the Uniform Guidance to the BEAD Program. An applicant is still required to comply with the Uniform Guidance requirements for contracting with small and minority businesses (2 CFR 200.321), domestic preferences for procurement (2 CFR 200.322), and as applicable, procurement of recovered materials (2 CFR 200.323)    

In addition, the NTIA has issued a limited waiver of BABA for certain components:

  • Non-optic glass inputs
  • Electronics except: OLTs and Remote OLTs, OLT Line Cards, Optic Pluggables, and Standalone Optical Network Terminals or Units
  • Passive Optical



The grant is a subaward of federal funds and must comply with federal procurement requirements. Project costs must meet the requirements in the grant agreement, NTIA guidance, and applicable provisions of the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200).

Expenses incurred prior to execution of the grant agreement are not eligible for reimbursement. Any procurement of contractors must comply with federal procurement standards outlined in the grant agreement and NTIA guidance.

Additional Resources

ConnectMT Website: Landing page where additional broadband opportunities and program guidance will be published.

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Signup: All eligible participants are encouraged to participate in the ACP. Applicants are encouraged to incorporate the ACP in their community outreach and adoption strategies. Further, all BOOT Grantees will be required to participate in the ACP as a condition of accepting funding.

System for Award Management (SAM): All subrecipients are required to maintain an Active registration on SAM.GOV. Further, a subrecipient should search and retain documentation that all contractors/vendors are not debarred.

Uniform Administration Requirements (2 CFR Part 200): All federally funded grant programs will follow compliance requirements of the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

Procurement Threshold Definitions (48 CFR Part 2 Subpart 2.1): Federal procurement thresholds may be updated periodically. Subrecipients should follow the thresholds in effect at the time of the grant agreement.

Build America Buy America Factsheet and FAQs and Buy America website: Subrecipients will be required to comply with Buy America. The OMB published an initial FAQ and continues to update its website with additional guidance.

Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program: The NTIA website that outlines BEAD program updates and guidance.