WASHINGTON, February 2, 2010 – The Rural Utilities Service of the Agriculture Department on Monday posted its guide to applying for grants awarded through the Broadband Infrastructure Program, or its portion of the broadband stimulus effort.
The documents, posted on the “information library” portion of the BroadbandUSA web site, include the templates necessary to apply for RUS grants under the broadband stimulus program.
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is responsible for the bulk of the broadband grants under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, has not yet posted its application guide.
The NTIA and RUS are nearly half-way through their roadshows describing the new Notice of Funds Availability, and the differences between the second and the first round of broadband stimulus applications and awards.
The kickoff workshop was in Portland, Ore., on January 26. And on Friday, January 29, in Denver, NTIA Administrators Larry Strickling urged losing applicants from Round 1 to reapply for Round 2 grants.
The two agencies continue their workshops on Tuesday in Eureka, Mo., in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Thursday; in Detroit on Friday; in Blackburg on February 9; Fayetteville, N.C., on February 11; and Atlanta on February 12. See the workshop schedule.
Among the changes between the first and second rounds, according to a fact sheet (PDF) issued in January:
Changes from the First NOFA:
NTIA has made a number of changes to BTOP for the second round of funding to increase efficiency, sharpen BTOP’s funding focus, and improve the applicant experience:
- First and foremost, NTIA will focus on Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects.
- The joint NTIA‐RUS application process from Round One has been eliminated. Instead, each agency issued its own NOFA and will use its own separate applications and apply its own separate funding priorities (i.e., for NTIA, Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects; and for RUS, Last Mile Rural Infrastructure projects).
- NTIA has improved the online application to streamline the intake of information and make the process more user‐friendly. Improvements include reducing the number of attachments to be uploaded with the application, eliminating the proposed funded service area mapping tool, and modifying the service area delineations from Census blocks to Census tracts and block groups.
- NTIA no longer will require that an infrastructure project serve an unserved or underserved area; however, we will give priority to projects that are located in such areas and we do intend to carefully evaluate the extent to which proposed projects overbuild existing broadband infrastructure.