WASHINGTON, April 8, 2009 – Comments filed on Monday, April 6, emphasized the rural/urban divide and how the gap in adoption can be overcome. Education, not just connection, will be critical to getting the most from stimulus funds, these commenters said.
Access Delray filed a petition to examine competitive practices in the 2.5Ghz band. Access Delray noted that Sprint/ Clearwire have gained access to much of this spectrum, and hopes that the new Federal Communications Commission should examine the details of these dealings.
InLine wrote to emphasize three points: (1) funding priority should be given to small- and medium-sized businesses with established records of providing quality broadband services to suburban and rural areas, (2) many areas outside of urban centers have very limited or no access to broadband, and (3) review of grant applications should have input from the state level, but not necessarily directly from state governments
The Plymouth, Indiana, Chamber of Commerce outlined several guidelines they believe the program should follow. An emphasis on dark fiber projects, areas that have high unemployment, greater than 2 percent of national average, and an emphasis on areas classified as rural by the Agriculture Department should get priority in funding. Plymouth also defines underserved as an area that has broadband available to 60 percent or less of the population.
Commenters also request that the rules be somewhat flexible, in order that unserved areas adjacent to areas that are served to collect funding, despite their proximity to served areas.
Wireless Philadelphia writes to emphasize the on-the-ground expertise that many commenters have. They wrote that “a comprehensive package of technology services is essential, and is best delivered through established community-based organizations to which economically disadvantaged populations are already connected.” Wireless Philadelphia, and organizations like them, have the experience to maximize the impact of stimulus funds.
Zero Divide stated several criteria it wished NTIA to follow. These included awarding grants to those that are already experienced in their field, and leveraging stimulus funds should be encouraged, but not required. Likewise, those with 20 percent matching funds on hand should be given greater weight when evaluating applications. Some weighting criteria proposed includes replicable models and proven methods that create public/private partnerships.
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 http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.
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.