Holy Handouts! Applicants Seek Almost $28B in Broadband Bucks


[qi:101] The government agencies responsible for dispensing $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money said today that 2,200 entities have applied for the first tranche of $4 billion in grants. The total funding sought was just shy of $28 billion, according to a release posted on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration web site. And when the roughly $10.5 billion in matching funds committed by the applicants is taken into account as well, that figure rises to $38 billion in proposed projects.

That’s a lot of demand for rural broadband, especially when we recall that the larger vendors have shied away from asking for funds. The NTIA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service expects to make the first cuts in this pile of applications by Sept. 15. According to the release, so far the breakdown of applications looks like this:

  • More than 260 applications were filed solely with NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), requesting over $5.4 billion in grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas.
  • More than 400 applications were filed solely with RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), requesting nearly $5 billion in grants and loans for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.
  • More than 830 applications were filed with both NTIA’s BTOP and RUS’s BIP, requesting nearly $12.8 billion in infrastructure funding. Applicants for infrastructure projects in rural areas had to apply to the RUS program but were given the opportunity to jointly apply to the NTIA program in case RUS didn’t fund their application.
  • More than 320 applications were filed with NTIA requesting nearly $2.5 billion in grants for projects that promote sustainable demand for broadband services. The Recovery Act directs NTIA to make at least $250 million available for programs that encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services, of which up to $150 million is allocated in this first round of grants.
  • More than 360 applications were filed with NTIA requesting more than $1.9 billion in grants from BTOP for public computer center projects to expand access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at public libraries, community colleges, and other institutions that provide the benefits of broadband to the general public or specific vulnerable populations. The Recovery Act directs NTIA to make at least $200 million available for expanding public computer center capacity, of which up to $50 million is allocated in this first round of grants.


Tim Mason

The broadband stimulus funds have the potential to change people’s lives and enhance communities that previously had limited or no broadband connectivity. This is true whether you support government stimulus funding or not. Hopefully the lion’s share of this money will go towards filling in the gaps around the country for broadband infrastructure. These grants make it possible for local service providers to deliver broadband service in places that the large vendors have long ignored. Wireless Internet Service Providers such as Air Advantage are a great example for RUS BIP applicants. Checkout their case study at http://wireless.fcc.gov/outreach/presentations/saginaw2008/SuccessStories/SAGINAW%20-%20Air%20Advantage%20Success%20Story.pdf

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