WASHINGTON, February 13, 2010 – The snowstorm that shut much of Washington down this past week will not change the due date for Round 2 broadband stimulus applications, nor will it delay the naming of Round 1 winners, federal officials said Friday.
Speaking at a “Broadband Stimulus Town Hall Workshop Webcast,” National Telecommunications and Information Administration Senior Advisor Angela Simpson assured the panelists that the Commerce Department does not believe that the March 15 due date for Round 2 stimulus applications is in jeopardy.
Rural Utilities Service Deputy Administrator Jessica Zufolo said that the agency has dedicated $300 million in Round 1 awards, and is on target for its end-of-February deadline for making awards public.
Zufolo told panelists on the webcast that if applicants have not received notification that the Round 1 application has moved on to a due diligence phase, the application is not likely going to be funded. Those applicants should turn their attention to Round 2.
Other speakers and panelists at the webcast examined what applicants need to know in putting together successful broadband grant and loan bids for Round 2.
Moderator Jim Baller, of the Baller Herbst Law Group, queried whether potential Round 2 applicants might find it difficult to crystallize proposals when Round 1 awards are not yet finalized. He also raised concern about the potential for service territory overlap.
Simpson said applicants needed to keep in mind the differences between infrastructure grants and community computer centers, and that NTIA narrowly defines area overlap based on Census tract groups. According to Zufolo, RUS is also sensitive to concerns about area overlap.
With regard to strategies for maximizing chances for success in Round 2, Zufolo said that a goal of the administration was to support regional economic development in rural America.
Simpson said that NTIA’s priority in Round 2 would be economically distressed areas. In addition, Simpson also directed applicants to be comprehensive about working with other entities to leverage applications and to be vigilant about budgets and specific with numbers in applications.
In addition to the representatives from the federal government, first round winners provided insight about why they think their applications stood out.
Joe Freddoso, CEO of Round 1 winner MCNC, attributed his success to the fact that his organization was able to get North Carolina to focus on them as a single sponsored entity.
Freddoso advised applicants in Round 2 to concentrate on public-private partnerships. Other Round 1 winners included Randi Levin, chief information technology officer for the city of Los Angeles, who advised applicants to make sure their data is specific.
The panel discussion also included industry representatives, who offered their perspectives on maximizing Round 2 chances. Alcatel-Lucent Legislative Counsel Kevin Krufky encouraged applicants to stick to the rules and answer the question asked, not the question you would prefer to answer.
Krufky noted that if an applicant was denied funding in Round 1, that applicant should already be working on the Round 2 application.