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NTIA Commenters Say Broadband Projects Should Meet Multiple Needs

in NTIA/NTIA Comments/Recovery Act by

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2009 – Among the commentators weighing in on the Commerce Department’s broadband technologies grants on April 1, several suggested that programs should be able to meet multiple needs as part of the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds being offered.

The comments are available on the web site of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, at

Brad Bowman of Access Delray, based in Gulfstream, Florida, championed municipal Wi-Max, specifically in the 3.65 GigaHertz (GHz) band. Bowman states that America should cut the cord and go wireless as much as possible, and go straight to municipalities. He said, “It is a fact that there is no room for a middle man in the offering of core network access and services as evidenced by Earthlink’s and AT&T’s retreat from the Muni-Wireless marketplace.”

Gene Stone of Rabbit Internet Services, states that he “would prefer that NTIA grants not require 20% funding by those receiving grants.”

Charles Benton, of the Benton Foundation, said that the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program should focus on projects that will enhance long term economic opportunity, and not just short-term jobs. Multi-purpose projects can help leverage available funds and should be prioritized, he said. The program should also enhance opportunities for indigent communities. Synergies between the Agriculture Department’s RUS and NTIA should be taken advantage, leveraging RUS’ experience in infrastructure by using NTIA to focus on outreach.

The Ad Hoc Telecom Manufacturers Coalition, including AC Photonics, ACD Telecom, FiberControl, Minerva Networks, Sandvine, Sunrise Telecom and Vermeer Corp., answered the joint request for information questions directly, suggesting exact criteria for many parameters, such as the percentage of funds that should go to unserved and underserved communities. ACD recommended that funds be split as follows: 15percent to unserved, 5 percent to underserved, 15 percent to education, 25 percent to public safety, and 15 percent to demand stimulation.

Like Benton, ACD and the ad-hoc coalition believe that projects should meet multiple needs. States should not be able to approve/disapprove grants, but should have some role in the program. Program criteria should include: Minority-owned businesses, technical approach and depth of research to the project, and the qualifications and capabilities of the person applying. The coalition said that broadband mapping should be at the city level.

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