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FCC Seeks to Get Into Broadband Stimulus Game with Public Notice

in NTIA/Recovery Act by

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday outlined the procedures by which parties wishing to provide written or oral comments on the agency’s consultative role in the broadband provisions of the fiscal stimulus act.

“In the Recovery Act, Congress assigned grant- and loan-making responsibilities to the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS),” read the FCC public notice.

Although the NTIA and the RUS will administer specific programs for broadband grants and loans, the
FCC  said, “The Commission has no funds under the Recovery Act for grant- or loan-making.

The Commission does, however, have an important role to play in providing expert, technical advice to NTIA as it establishes the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program,  and the Commission may also provide expert, technical advice to RUS as it proceeds with its own programs.”

The FCC notice also said Congress had directed NTIA to consult with the FCC on five specific terms and concepts: the definition of “unserved area,” the definition of “underserved area,” the definition of “broadband,” the non-discrimination obligations that will be contractual conditions of BTOP grants, and the network interconnection obligations that will be contractual conditions of BTOP grants.

The FCC said its staff are attended the relevant hearings being held jointly by NTIA and RUS on the implementation of their broadband stimulus programs from March 16 to March 24, and will have access to the written filings made in response to those agencies’ call for comments.

Comments to the NTIA and RUS are due by Monday, April 13. The FCC also said that its staff would make themselves available for ex parte meetings with interested parties during the week of March 30 through April 3, 2009.

Registered lobbyists requesting meetings should identify themselves as such at the time of requesting meetings, the FCC said.

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