WASHINGTON, December 31, 2009 – The Commerce Department agency responsible for the mapping component of the broadband stimulus program announced, on the last day of the year, that it had funded five more states’ broadband data programs.
With the announcement – of funding for broadband data and mapping in Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and the U.S. Virgin Islands – the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has awarded 41 grants totaling $78 million.
There remain 15 awards still to be made – rounding out the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories that submitted applications and are eligible for grant funding.
The agency said that it planned to make those awards early in 2010.
NTIA has been relatively parsimonious in its approach to funding broadband data-collection efforts.
Although the “Notice of Funds Availability” released on July 1, 2009, said that the agency would accept applications for funding of up to $3.9 million per state, plus $500,000 for “broadband planning activities,” in practice the NTIA has cut that amount by more than half. The average award has been $1.9 million.
Up to $350 million of the $7.2 billion allocated for broadband-related activities by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was set aside for broadband data-collection activities.
However, if the NTIA awards the remaining grants at the same rate, it would spend about $106 million on broadband mapping – less than a third itemized in the fiscal stimulus bill.
Presumably, some of remaining funds – up to $250 million – designed for broadband data and mapping will go to fund internal NTIA efforts, or efforts of the Federal Communications Commission.
Of these most recent five grants announced Thursday, three went to government agencies; one went to the non-profit organization Connected Nation, in Iowa; and another to the University of New Hampshire.
“Congress rightly recognized that increasing broadband access and adoption in communities being left behind in the 21st Century economy depends on better data collection and broadband planning,” said NTIA Administrator and Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling.
“Our goal is to carry out this initiative on schedule and at the lowest cost necessary to do the job right. We have now awarded the majority of the grants in the program and will continue to work with the remaining applicants so they can bring the benefits of broadband to more of their citizens,” Strickling said.
Additionally, in the NTIA’s statement, the agency said that “the data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, a tool that will inform policymakers’ efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them.”
From the NTIA press release:
- Iowa: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $1.7 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Iowa, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.2 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of Iowa.
- Montana: NTIA has awarded the Montana Department of Commerce nearly $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Montana, bringing the total grant award to more than $2 million. The Montana Department of Commerce is the designated entity for the state of Montana.
- New Hampshire: NTIA has awarded the University of New Hampshire (UNH) approximately $1.2 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in New Hampshire, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.7 million. UNH is the designated entity for the state of New Hampshire.
- Utah: NTIA has awarded the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) approximately $1.5 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a four-year period in Utah, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2 million. The Utah PSC is the designated entity for the state of Utah.
- U.S. Virgin Islands: NTIA has awarded the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority – Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) approximately $830,000 for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and approximately $460,000 for broadband planning activities over a two-year period in the U.S. Virgin Islands, bringing the total grant award to nearly $1.3 million. The OEO is the designated entity for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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