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Summary:

[qi:101] One of the federal agencies responsible for administering $4.7 billion in broadband stimulus grants has quietly delayed its plans to approve and distribute money under its program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration late last week issued a statement noting that it will accept grant […]

[qi:101] One of the federal agencies responsible for administering $4.7 billion in broadband stimulus grants has quietly delayed its plans to approve and distribute money under its program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration late last week issued a statement noting that it will accept grant applications in September and aims to distribute its first grants in December. However, in a March meeting it had said it hoped to accept grants in April and May and start delivering the first round of funding in June.

The delay isn’t a terrible thing for most of the entities hoping to get grant money, as the rules that will govern the distribution of the funds and even set the priorities for the NTIA have not been announced. Craig Settles, an independent broadband consultant, notes that the delay will likely benefit many of the larger cities and combined municipal efforts because it gives them time to think about building a sustainable business plan around their broadband deployments.

However, the delay — and general confusion over how the money will be distributed — is a fantastic example of how herculean a task it will be to funnel $7.2 billion through the two agencies (the Rural Utilities Service will oversee the distribution of $2.5 billion) in a period of less 18 months. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act mandates that the grants be issued by Sept. 10, 2010, and the subsequent projects should be significantly deployed within two years of receiving the grants.

To think that the NTIA, which has an annual budget of $19.2 million for fiscal 2009, will be able to wisely invest $4.7 billion in less than 18 months is akin to thinking the proverbial $500 toilets purchased by the Pentagon were worth every penny.

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By Stacey Higginbotham

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  1. Steve Ardire Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Hey no worries the USA is #25 ;)

    Top 25 Countries in Household Broadband Penetration – Q32006 – Q42006
    http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0704/

    I’d venture to say the USA has moved up little or not at all but was too disgusted with Government Delays Broadband Grants to look for something more recent

  2. The US Government: We care about your connection speed… enough to say we’re going to do something about it and then ignore you instead.

    *Guh*

  3. Logic Computer Services Falkirk Thursday, May 21, 2009

    wish we were getting the same kind of speeds that japan get, its amazing being able to download a movie in 5 min

  4. I think the telcos need something like RocketConnect. Does not require heavy infrastructure investments, with at least 5-10 times more bandwidth. Solves the last-mile network latency to the homes.
    http://www.rocketstream.com/rocketconnect/

  5. Andrew Schmitt Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    The situation is much worse for the makers of equipment. What the Government has effectively done is forced all rural carriers to hold off on capex and wait until government dollars become available instead.

    Far from being a stimulus, it is an anti-stimulus for the telecom equipment business, and yet another example of the unintended consequences of government meddling.

    What SHOULD have been done is simply make the grants retroactive to Jan 1 2009 for all spending found to meet certain criteria. At least then some companies would have spent and taken the chance they would have been compensated.

  6. FCC Confirmation Hearings Set for June 16 Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    [...] Commissioner Robert McDowell. This is great news, given that the current administration is spending billions on broadband in the next 15 months, and there are several other pressing issues that the FCC needs to undertake, [...]

  7. It’s Official: Julius Genachowski Is FCC Chair Thursday, June 25, 2009

    [...] the position. Given that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is set to issue the guidelines informing people how it plans to dispense of $4.7 billion in stimulus funds for broadband before [...]

  8. Where Will $4.7B in Broadband Bucks Go? You Decide! Thursday, July 9, 2009

    [...] wants to give out $4.7 billion (only $1.6 billion in this first round) in 14 months it has to cut some corners to make sure it can handle the load. That means bringing on citizens to review grant applications. [...]

  9. Hard Questions for the Broadband Stimulus Program – GigaOM Friday, December 18, 2009

    [...] while I get that it’s difficult to allocate $7.2 billion worth of grants in less than two years, as the NTIA and RUS is charged with, I still want to know if the RUS only [...]

  10. Found: Missing Broadband Stimulus Funds! – GigaOM Friday, January 15, 2010

    [...] those of you who don’t recall, the first round was supposed to dispense $4.7 billion and was plagued by delays and a mystery of missing [...]

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