NTIA and RUS Will Each Issue Separate Notices for 2nd Round Broadband Grants

Broadband Stimulus January 15th, 2010

, Deputy Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service on Friday announced the availability of a second round of broadband stimulus funding, with two separate Notices of Funds Availability from the respective agencies.

The focus of NTIA’s pending NoFA will be focusing on “comprehensive communities” and which will focus on middle mile projects and anchor institutions.

“NTIA plans to award at least $150 million of the funding for Public Computer Center projects, which will expand access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at public libraries, community colleges, and other institutions that service the general public,” according to the press release.

“NTIA also plans to award at least $100 million for Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects, which include projects to provide broadband education, training, and equipment, particularly to vulnerable population groups where broadband technology has traditionally been underutilized.”

“Based on the feedback we received from stakeholders and our own experience in the first funding round, we are making the application process more user-friendly, sharpening our funding focus to make the biggest impact with this investment, and streamlining our review process to increase efficiency,” said Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA.

By expanding middle mile and anchor institutions NTIA believes that individuals will become more inclined to subscribe to service in their homes and by creating an educated population ISPs will become more likely to deploy to these areas.

The RUS approach will now include satellite services, but these funds will only be made available after all of the other funding is awarded. Additionally the agency’s Broadband Infrastructure Program will focus on last-mile projects that the agency feels are most effective.

“The new approach provides RUS with flexibility to seek a waiver if additional grant resources are needed for areas that are difficult to serve, and priority for those who seek lower grant levels. RUS believes this simplified and flexible funding strategy will promote rural economic development,“ according to the joint release from the two agencies.

RUS’ new approach “draws on our long experience in improving rural networks to the most difficult-to-reach areas of our country that need it most,” said RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein.

Applicants will be able to apply to both programs. The two-step process, whereby applicants for infrastructure programs needed to apply to the RUS as well as to NTIA, has been eliminated.

New workshops have also been added in Portland, Ore.; Reno, Nev.; Denver, Colo.; San Antonio, Tex.; Eureka, Mo.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Detroit, Mich.; Blacksburg, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.

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