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Summary:

The House and Senate held a pre-Valentine’s Day love fest last night and produced a compromise stimulus package; the two houses must now approve the conference bill, after which it would be sent to the president. For details on the full $789 billion plan, you can […]

The House and Senate held a pre-Valentine’s Day love fest last night and produced a compromise stimulus package; the two houses must now approve the conference bill, after which it would be sent to the president. For details on the full $789 billion plan, you can check out the legislation. We’ve outlined what the $7.2 billion million devoted to broadband funding will buy (if you’re looking for the tax credits, they’re no longer there):

  • The grants will be split among two agencies — something most broadband proponents were against. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will administer $4.7 billion, and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service will administer $2.5 billion, which may cause problems for the rural ISPs.
  • There are no longer any speed requirements, which means the federal government, which currently defines broadband at 768 kbps, will determine appropriate speeds for the underserved areas getting grants. Hopefully they will think ahead, and opt to push fiber where it’s reasonable to do so, and fast wireless where it’s not.
  • The grants must all be dispersed by Sept. 30, 2010, and those receiving them have two years to build out infrastructure. Additionally, the FCC has one year to come up with a comprehensive national broadband plan to provide universal coverage and encourage citizens to use the network.
  • Grant recipients must adhere to “non-discrimination and network interconnection obligations.” At a minimum, this means the principles contained in the FCC’s broadband policy statement.
  • The Commerce Committee must gather much-needed data on broadband penetration within the next two years and create a publicly, available searchable database on the NTIA web site. Maybe it will resemble this map of France. The bill allocates $350 million for the project.
  1. I’ve heard good and bad things about bringing broadband to rural america, let’s hope these red states know what to do with it and we don’t end up spending billions for a technology that might go 1) unused and 2) become outdated before it’s completed ie Wimax

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  2. $350 mm for a map of broadband penetration? I could get that done for $50 mm, as could any number of entrepreneurs.

    More broadly, which would be a more productive use of $350 mm for our country — funding a map of broadband penetration or 7 fundings of $50 mm each for startup companies that you or I or any reasonable group of people choose?

    That $350 mm is a colossal waste. Luckily the other $788.65 billion will be allocated productively.

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  3. wtf ? why even 50million for figuring out broadband penetration ? DSLAMs are all managed by EMS/NMS systems by all carriers big and small… running a list of all of them and correlating them w/ population/census/city-maps etc (or Google Maps for that matter) shouldnt take more than a few months a few 100s of K for all carriers especially when a very high % of connections are managed by the big carriers and cablecos ?

    the 7.2 million number in main body is a typo (bbbbillions) – perhaps 350million is 3.5Million or 350K>… i wish.

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  4. I agree with Ted that the amount of money spent on that map is simply stunning. That’s the price of deploying fiber to 350 000 homes at 1000$ a shot (average market costs). I would also point out that the French map in Stacey’s article is produced for very precisely 0 EUR.

    This is exactly the kind of projects that could and should be crowdsourced. I’m sure there’s more than enough enthusiastic people willing to document the lack of choice in broadband they get…

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  5. Well, the $50 million included my professional sports team — sorry, forgot to mention.

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  6. DSLAMs and BRAS i meant… even the dumb BRASes do billing, dont they? billing records + DSLAM maps + POTS stuff gives you everything and netflow + cisco/juniper tools will give you the rest of the network map… to get fancier logical maps, data mine on netflow stats a la Guavus networks.

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  7. How long is it taking?

    It has been over an year since recession hit the US. What exactly the policy makers are thinking?

    I doubt, the color is more political than economic now, yes even now!

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  8. [...] Broadband Stimulus Package Nears Finish Line [...]

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  9. Stacey Higginbotham Friday, February 13, 2009

    Yup, $350 million is excessive, but since the ISPs won’t give up their “competitive information” on subscribers and networks, and no one in the government wanted to force this, we needed to figure out some elaborately expensive way to do it otherwise.

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  10. [...] days, you can check out what should be the final infrastructure stimulus plan here (hat tip to Stacey Higginbotham). While the $7.2 million dedicated to broadband retains network neutrality language, all of the [...]

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