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NTIA Delays BIP-BTOP Broadband Application Deadline to August 20

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new information. See below.

WASHINGTON, August 13, 2009 – The federal government announced on Thursday that it is extending the deadline for electronic applications seeking money to be used for U.S. broadband development, as agency servers have been slow to respond to their unusually heavy load.

The deadline for applications for the Broadband Initiatives Program and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program has been extended to 5 p.m. ET, on Thursday, August 20, so long as the applications are pending in the Easygrants System on the application closing deadline of 5 p.m. ET, on Friday, August 14.

The deadline for paper applications continues to be tomorrow.

Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein issued a statement Thursday saying the Easygrants application system has experienced “service delays due to the volume of activity from potential applicants.”

The RUS and the National Telecommunications Information Administration, which oversee the grant process, have added servers to address the capacity issues, he said.

Brad Ramsay, the general counsel for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said Wednesday during a webinar hosted by Governing.com that California and other states have been recommending that applicants file early this week because of concern over the ability of the Web site taking applications to handle them all.

“One person was telling me that the Web site was already abysmally slow as of Monday,” he said.

Successful.com founder Craig Settles last week urged the applicant community to push for a deadline extension because it “benefits communities, local   governments and their private sector partners, but the gist of it is this. You reduce the chance of good projects being deep-sixed due to lack of time.”

He also argued that it would give the National Telecommunications Information Administration more time to train, and install management systems for the anonymous volunteer panelists who’ll influence which proposals make the first cuts in the approval process.

An applicant must have completed the following steps to be recognized as having a pending application in the Easygrants system:

1. Log into the system at www.broadbandusa.gov;
2. Select “Start a new application” under “Apply for a new grant/loan;”
3. Select one of the two choices for available funding opportunities;
4. Select “Continue;” and
5. Select “OK” when prompted “Are you sure you want to apply for the program.”

The Recovery Act appropriated $7.2 billion and directed the Agriculture Department’s RUS and The commerce Department’s NTIA to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the United States, increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure and provide long-term economic benefits.

UPDATE

2:03 p.m. ET – Commerce Department spokesman Mark Tolbert confirmed that, while the BIP and BTOP applications have been delayed until August 20, the deadline for states and non-profit entities designated by the state to apply for up to $240 million in broadband data funds remains unchanges: Friday, August 14, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Tolbert said that the delay for BIP and BTOP was necessary because of the large volume of traffic flooding Commerce and Agriculture Department servers. As to mapping applications also taking place electronically, he said, “It hasn’t been determined that the situation was needed for that [a change in deadline for mapping applications].”

NEW VENUE Announced for Broadband Breakfast Club with Rep. Rick Boucher

in Broadband Calendar by

Sold-Out Crowd at May 12 Broadband Breakfast Club Prompted Move to New Venue, at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, for Discussion on ‘How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 – Unprecedented demand to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club has caused BroadbandCensus.com to relocate the event, beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12, to Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee, will speak at the event.

Boucher, who leads Congressional efforts to define and supervise the nation’s broadband policy – and its communication strategy for rural America – will lead off the discussion at the Broadband Breakfast Club with a speech at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The topic of the May 12 meeting is “How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?”

Registration for the breakfast event is available here. Breakfast is available beginning at 8 a.m.; the program will begin shortly after 8:30 a.m. Clyde’s of Gallery Place is located at 707 7th Street NW, Washington, DC. The event will take place in the Piedmont Room upstairs.

Other speakers at the May Broadband Breakfast Club, the second in a series on “Spending the Broadband Stimulus,” will consider one of the leading definition questions that remains to be defined by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service: who is served by broadband, and who isn’t.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation
  • Jean Plymale, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program
  • James Bradford Ramsey, General Counsel, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
  • S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press

The event will be moderated by Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. Clark is a veteran telecom and technology journalist, and he founded BroadbandCensus.com in January 2008 as a means of providing the public with a free and objective resource of the wired and wireless local broadband carriers, grouped by ZIP code, by speed, by competition and by consumer satisfaction.

Telecommunications policy advocates, attorneys, policy-makers and journalists seeking to obtain insights from top officials in Washington can attend the Broadband Breakfast Club, for as little as $45.00, plus a modest registration fee. The events are on the record and open to the public. Register here for the next breakfast event.

For individuals outside of Washington, or whose schedule doesn’t permit attendance in person, archived webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are now available on the BroadbandCensus.com channel on TV Mainstream. One full year of online access to each premium webcast is available for $40.00.

Individuals may elect to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club and subscribe to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus, for $100.00.

Introductory subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at $95.00/month, or $950.00/year. Included within the purchase price is one year of complementary access to each monthly webcast of the Broadband Breakfast Club. Get Four Free Issues of the Weekly Report.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast.

The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

The Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, is sponsored by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the Benton Foundation.

Two additional sponsored tables are available. Contact Drew Clark, Executive Director, BroadbandCensus.com at 202-580-8196.

Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Commerce Communications Subcommittee, at Broadband Breakfast Club

in Broadband Calendar by

Chairman Boucher Will Speak at May 12 Broadband Breakfast Club, on ‘How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – BroadbandCensus.com announced that Rep. Rick Boucher, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee, will speak at the Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

Boucher, who leads Congressional efforts to define and supervise the nation’s broadband policy – and its communication strategy for rural America – will lead off the discussion at the Broadband Breakfast Club with a speech at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The topic of the May 12 meeting is “How Should ‘Unserved’ and ‘Underserved’ Areas Best Be Defined?”

Registration for the breakfast event is available here. A full American + Continental Breakfast is available beginning at 8 a.m.; the program will begin shortly after 8:30 a.m.

Other speakers at the May Broadband Breakfast Club, the second in a series on “Spending the Broadband Stimulus,” will consider one of the leading definition questions that remains to be defined by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service: who is served by broadband, and who isn’t.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation
  • Jean Plymale, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program
  • James Bradford Ramsey, General Counsel, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
  • S. Derek Turner, Research Director, Free Press

The event will be moderated by Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. Clark is a veteran telecom and technology journalist, and he founded BroadbandCensus.com in January 2008 as a means of providing the public with a free and objective resource of the wired and wireless local broadband carriers, grouped by ZIP code, by speed, by competition and by consumer satisfaction.

Telecommunications policy advocates, attorneys, policy-makers and journalists seeking to obtain insights from top officials in Washington can attend the Broadband Breakfast Club, for as little as $45.00, plus a modest registration fee. The events are on the record and open to the public. Register here for the next breakfast event.

For individuals outside of Washington, or whose schedule doesn’t permit attendance in person, archived webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are now available on the BroadbandCensus.com channel on TV Mainstream. One full year of online access to each premium webcast is available for $40.00.

Individuals may elect to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club and subscribe to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report, a premium newsletter packed with the most relevant and actionable news, analysis and insight into the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus, for $100.00.

Introductory subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at $95.00/month, or $950.00/year. Included within the purchase price is one year of complementary access to each monthly webcast of the Broadband Breakfast Club. Get Four Free Issues of the Weekly Report.

Individuals who register to attend the Broadband Breakfast Club in person will also receive a full year of complementary online access to the webcast.

The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

Previous meetings of the Broadband Breakfast Club have included:

The November meeting, “Should Government Funding Be Part of a National Broadband Plan?” featured a discussion with Stan Fendley of Corning, Kyle McSlarrow of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and telecommunications consultant John Windhausen, Jr.

The December meeting, “How Applications and Broadband Mapping Harness Demand for High-Speed Internet,” featured Geoff Daily, a blogger for App-Rising.com; Susan Fox, a vice president at Walt Disney; Neal Neuberger, executive director of the Institute for e-Health Policy; and Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute. Click here for access to this webcast.

The January meeting, “What Will Broadband Do to the Universal Service Fund,” included Jay Driscoll of CTIA – The Wireless Association; Gregory Rohde, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton and executive director of the the E-9-1-1 Institute; Jennifer Schneider, Office of Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Technology and the Internet; and Curt Stamp of the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance. Click here for access to this webcast.

The February meeting, “The Role of Wireless Frequencies in Widespread Broadband Deployment,” featured Donald C. Brittingham, Assistant Vice President, Wireless/Spectrum Policy, Verizon Communications; Tom DeRiggi, Rapid DSL & Wireless (a local wireless internet service provider); John Kneuer, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2006-2007, John Kneuer Associates; John Muleta, CEO, M2Z Networks; and Steve B. Sharkey, Senior Director, Regulatory and Spectrum Policy, Motorola. Click here for access to this webcast.

The March meeting, “Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It?” featured Art Brodsky, Communication Director, Public Knowledge; Kathleen Ham, Vice President, Federal Regulatory, T-Mobile USA; Brent Olson, Assistant Vice President, Public Policy, AT&T; Emmett O’Keefe, Director, Federal Public Policy, Amazon.com; andScott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute. Click here for access to this webcast.

The April Meeting, “Spending the Stimulus: Can States’ Front-line Experiences Expedite Broadband Deployment?” included Karen Jackson, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Commonwealth of Virginia; Betty Ann Kane, Chairman, D.C. Public Service Commission; Graham Richard, former Mayor, City of Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Sue A. Suleski, Technology Investment Specialist and Program Manager for the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative.

The Broadband Breakfast Club: Spending the Broadband Stimulus, is sponsored by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the Benton Foundation.

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register. Two additional sponsored tables are available. Contact Drew Clark, Executive Director, BroadbandCensus.com at 202-580-8196.

Coordination Between NTIA and RUS Spurs Talk of Common Broadband Application

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

News | NTIA-RUS Forum | Day 1, Session 2

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2009 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service should keep the application process for broadband stimulus dollars as simple as possible, a group of panelists said on Monday.

Speaking at the second panel of the March 16 public meeting, “Coordination between NTIA and RUS on Broadband Initiatives,” the message imparted was simple: coordination ought “not be buried in detail,” as expressed by J. Bradford Ramsey, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Ramsey was one of five panelists discussing the intricacies of the way in which the Commerce Department’s NTIA’s $4.7 billion for broadband will interact with the $2.5 billion that will flow through the Agriculture Department’s RUS.

Monday marked the first day of a six-day series of joint hearings between the agencies.

The $7.2 billion total in broadband stimulus funds was allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which authorized $787 billion in total spending in an effort to boost the economy.

“Let us keep the application process simple,” said Ramsey. “Let us broaden our definitions of what we are doing too,” he said.

Echoing a theme also expressed by the other four panelists, he said there ought to be a common application for everyone interested in the funds, and that details of the process and outcomes be made available in a public database.

Jeff Arnold, legislative director at the National Association of Counties, warned that major challenges exist in applying for the grants at the local level.

“Let us have a standardized process and database cutting across both NTIA and RUS,” he said. He also urged a standardized application.

Derrick Owens, director of government affairs at Western Telecommunications Alliance, and a former NTIA official, also urged coordination between NTIA and RUS. But a single application procedure may not be viable because of institutional differences between the two agencies.

Additionally, RUS has the authority to stretch its $2.5 billion in funding into more resources by turning a portion of the funds into loans, instead of grants. Over the past half-decade, RUS has primarily given loans, and not grants, for broadband projects.

The differences between an application for a loan, versus an application for grant, may frustrate the quest for a common application.

Simplicity is also going to be vital to deal with an expected on-rush of applications for broadband stimulus funds.

Arnold, Owens and Mark DeFalco, a member of the board of the Appalachian Regional Commission, all surmised that the two agencies will be flooded with “thousands” of applications for the federal dollars.

“There will also be need to develop a notification system so that applicants know the status of their grant or loan applications,” said Owens, adding that the applications should processed in a “rapid and efficient manner.”

One debate among the panelists emerged over whether broadband stimulus funds should be driven primarily to expand coverage over a wider area, or to spend more to ensure higher-speed connections.

Mark Cooper, director of research at Consumer Federation of America, said there is need to establish “overreaching principles” to coordinate stimulus spending across agencies.

“Let us also set threshholds and standards to meet basic connecting needs,” said Cooper. “Let us also target maximum coverage rather than maximum functionality.”

DeFalco stressed that building “good coverage in all rural areas” should not take the place of ensuring that super-fast fiber or coaxial connections are built out more widely. Otherwise, he said, “these rural areas are again left behind.”

Arnold also warned against being satisfied with a definition of broadband speeds that were too low. “We need to be careful that we don’t design broadband needs based on residential users.”

During the question and answer session, Ramsey said that states should play a coordinating role among their own applicants on where broadband funding decisions stand.

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