Found: Missing Broadband Stimulus Funds!

The two federal agencies responsible for allocating the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus dollars today released information about the next — and final — round of funding. For 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 funds.

Today, we get information on the second round in which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will give out more than $4.6 billion in funds.

As part of the formal paperwork that lets people know there’s money to be had, I discovered what happened to missing funds I had written about a few weeks ago. The RUS was supposed to give out $2.6 billion in the first round but only wrote checks for $300 million. I wondered what that meant for the original applicants seeking the grant money and where the rest of the money was.

Today, my questions are answered, as the RUS says it has $2.3 billion to give out during this second round of funding, and that companies and towns that applied for money the first time around can either resubmit their original application or better tailor it to the new rules for this funding round. The majority of the RUS funding will be for last mile projects and middle-mile infrastructure. The RUS will only allocate money for satellite providers for areas that remain unserved after all other Recovery Act broadband funding is awarded.

The NTIA will hand out the remaining $2.35 billion. People can send in applications between Feb. 16 and March 15, 2010, and the agencies plan to announce all awards by Sept. 30, 2010, which is the deadline by which all funds have to be allocated under the original legislation. They’re cutting it close.

Image courtesy of Flickr user AMagill

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