DENVER, January 29, 2010 – Ditch the discouragement, review successful applications and reapply, reapply, reapply, was the message at the Denver workshop on Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants.
“Don’t fret over round one, there’s more money in round two,” said Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the Friday presentation. “I know folks are getting what you’re calling a rejection letter, but we’re looking at it as an ‘opportunity to reapply’ letter.”
Strickling stressed that it’s NTIA’s job to “make sure we don’t fund a bad project,” adding that the applications are “getting scrubbed top to bottom.”
His group spends at least 200 hours examining each application to ensure due diligence, and Strickling said that some senators he recently spoke with about the broadband monies process were impressed with that statistic.
He said some of his private sector peers say if they’re thinking about funding a $30 to $50 million project, they may put a team of four people working on it for six weeks.
“If we award you money, we need to make sure you’re still operating this project in five years,” he said.
Strickling offered a few pointers for applicants. He said NTIA looks at project management experience and a reasonable budget.
He’s eyeing “middle mile” projects because “our sense is to have a truly successful broadband ecosystem you need a strong middle mile component and anchor institutions,” he said.
It’s important for communities to hook their schools and libraries to the Internet, which will make consumers want to bring that broadband to their home.
The middle mile projects pave the way for last mile projects, he said. “We’re priming the pump for private business to get out there and build the rest of the infrastructure that we need to have.”
He added that groups getting a priority are able to offer a 30 percent dollar match even though only 20 percent is required.