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Washington State and Massachusetts Release Lists of BTOP and BIP Picks

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA/Premium Content by

WASHINGTON, October 14, 2009 – The states of Washington and Massachusetts on Wednesday released their lists of the projects that should be prioritized in the broadband stimulus funding decision pending by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Rural Utilities Service.

Massachusetts Gov. Devel Patrick highlighted three groups of projects: the Western Massachusetts activities coordinated by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, the OpenCape Application, and three applications by the City of Boston.

“What distinguished them for the governor, is that their planning and organization pre-dated the Recovery Act,” said Stan McGee, Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning in Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development, in Wednesday interview with BroadbandCensus.com. “I don’t envy the task that [Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence] Strickling has” in selecting among the applications, he said.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire promoted 10 applications in her letter. The sum total of the first five, which she rated as meeting the federal and state broadband priorities, and “most likely to successfully execute their proposals,” was $141 million. The sum total of the second five, which met the priorities but were not considered the most likely to succeed, was $34 million.

In the portions of this story included below as premium content, BroadbandCensus.com provides links to uploaded copies of the October 14 letters of Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Devel Patrick of Massachusetts, along with analysis and links to further information about the projects hotlined by the governors for approval by NTIA and RUS.

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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The October 14 letter to NTIA by Gov. Deval Patrick (PDF): btop-prioritization-letter-final

The three Massachusetts groupings recommended by Patrick center around three different priorities of the broadband stimulus program, said McGhee. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute application addressed the communities that are unserved. The need for broadband to larger, institutional clients is well captured by the OpenCape application.

And while “urban communities were disadvantaged” NTIA’s Notice of Funds Availability (NoFA), said McGhee, Massachusetts went out of its way to conduct a Census block-by-Census block survey of broadband availability to demonstrate that it was, indeed, underserved.

A list of the 86 applications that serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In his letter, Patrick highlighted the truly isolated nature of western Massachusetts communities. According to the NTIA definitions, four are unserved and 39 are underserved. “With an average population density of 39 people per square mile (versus a statewide average of 602), it is not surprising that 64% of the households in these 43 communities have no wired broadband available,” said the letter.

“This application does not tie together disparate, winding groups of census blocks to achieve unserved or underserved status. Rather, these 43 communities are, in their entirety, lacking adequate broad band access,” the letter continued.

Cape Cod is different, according to the letter: “The Southeast Massachusetts region has a different set of needs than those of a totally rural area (such as western Massachusetts) or a major metropolitan area. It has some minimal services that are not available in rural areas, but it does not have the telecommunications infrastructure it needs to survive and thrive. OpenCape’s application focuses on enabling services to underserved areas as well as on the need for commercial-grade broadband for entities with needs for symmetrical upstream and downstream Internet access, such as our world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.”

Open Cape submitted an application seeking $32.6 million.

The city of Boston submitted three applications.

A last-mile application called BBNet – the Boston Broadband Network – and filed only under the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, requested $7.9 million. It is “a last mile network, backhauled on City’s existing fiber network, with new middle mile high-speed connection to City fiber from public housing.”

The second application was the City of Boston’s Public Computing Centers, sought $1.7 million. It is a “coordinated project among three community anchors to provide upgraded and expanded hardware, software, and public computing training in 26 public libraries, 11 public housing developments, and 16 Centers for Youth and Families.”

The third application from Boston sought $5.4 million for the city’s sustainable broadband initiative. It calls for “innovative training programs driving sustainable broadband adoption among Boston’s vulnerable citizens while empowering them to upgrade their lives on-line.”

Speaking of these latter sustainable adoption programs, the letter from Patrick said that “Boston will expand its nationally recognized broadband education and netbook computer distribution program, TechnologyGoesHome (TGH). This decade-old program has won Verizon Foundation and Apple awards for helping families of Boston schoolchildren understand how the Internet can help them to live, learn, work, earn, and play – to genuinely improve their life circumstances.”

Speaking of the recommended applications as a whole, Patrick said, “In addition to the strength of these applications, they meet the greatest needs of the Commonwealth. Collectively, these projects are shovel-ready, will create measurable jobs immediately, and balance and address the Commonwealth’s diverse broadband needs – in both unserved and underserved communities.”

Washington State

The October 14 letter to NTIA by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (PDF): wa-state-btop-applicants-governor-letter-10-13-09

In the state of Washington, Gregoire said in her letter, “I assembled a committee composed of senior industry experts to review the applications. The committee used the objectives of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the recommendations described in the Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council Report, as guidelines to ensure that each application received equal and fair consideration at the state level.”

Below are the five projects that rated highest in meeting federal and state priorities, and were “most likely to successfully execute their proposals.”

Below are the five projects that were rated among the highest in meeting federal and state priorities, but were not voted “most likely to successfully execute their proposals.”

A list of the 97 applications that serve the state of Washington.

The NTIA and the RUS are expected to announce the winning broadband stimulus grants in November.

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