From Dark Fiber to Satellite, NTIA Commenters Push Wide Variety of Technologies

in NTIA/NTIA Comments/Recovery Act by

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2009 - Among the commenters weighing in on the Commerce Department’s broadband technologies grants on Thursday, April 2, and Friday, April 3, several echoed the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ proposal for a state role in allocating funds.

And in new filings, several businesses offering potentially innovative proposals urged a variety of different ways and platforms upon which the federal government to leverage stimulus funds.

Zhone Technologies said it wanted the program to focus on job creation, and requests that the goals for the program can only be met by “careful and appropriate consideration of the actual American labor content.”  Zhone noted that infrastructure is labor and equipment intensive, with as much as 60% of project costs going to equipment elements.  With “American content” of equipment varying widely, a close look must be taken in order to meet the overarching goals of the stimulus plan.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio pointed out the challenges facing both Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.  Last week NARUC laid out a detailed proposal for guaranteeing a state role.

NTIA must continue to oversee the DTV transition and RUS has existing programs in place that they must manage.  With these existing commitments in place, the states must play a key role in the stimulus, the state said, as did NARUC.  Ohio requested that the states be able to use their first-hand experience within their borders to rank the project applications, with criteria specified by RUS and NTIA as guidance.

By allowing the states an active part of the process, resources for both states and the federal government will be saved.

The Kansas Corporation Commission fully supports NARUC’s position, also filed on Friday.  Kansas specifically points out NARUC’s proposal to allow states to “opt-in” and receive funds to create two to four full-time job equivalents to review applications as a way to quickly allow states and the federal government to partner.

PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association, and the DAS Forum, a membership section of PCIA, said they have “a significant interest in the framework of broadband stimulus grant programs” since wireless broadband service is currently being provided by four or five carriers, with more on the way.  Each carrier requires “approximately 35,000 wireless facilities to deploy a nationwide broadband service.”

Broadband grants would “transform...unsustainable business models into positive business cases for wireless infrastructure,” allowing a higher level of roll-out than previously possible.  PCIA defines “underserved” as an area “in which there is only one provider of ubiquitous wireless broadband service,” and “unserved” as any area where “no wireless broadband service is available.”

Several individual commenters stated that “dark fiber” should be targeted first.

The Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce encourages NTIA to “quickly, efficiently, and transparently disburse the stimulus funding to states” and to be careful to not create “bureaucratic stipulations and barriers that will make it difficult for states to acquire these much needed funds.”

AlphaStar requested that the Federal Communications Commission be actively involved in the proceedings, specifically with the FCC’s expertise with small cap and minority owned businesses.  AlphaStar proposed a hybrid model involving terrestrial broadband and satellite backhaul.  Broadband funds would allow AlphaStar, who first rolled out this network in 2000, to roll out this network in unserved and underserved areas as sought by the fiscal stimulus measure.

Broadband Breakfast Club

Don’t miss the opportunity to register for the April 14, 2009, Broadband Breakfast Club at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The theme of the April meeting will be, “Spending the Stimulus: Can States’ Front-line Experiences Expedite Broadband Deployment?” Register at

Confirmed speakers include Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Commonwealth of Virginia; Betty Ann Kane, Chairman, D.C. Public Service Commission; and Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative.

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