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Broadband Stimulus Rules Released; Key Terms Defined For Funding

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2009 – Senior Administration Officials from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration detailed the newly released Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, now available at



WASHINGTON, July 1, 2009 – Senior Administration Officials from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration detailed the newly released Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, now available at

The joint NOFA, the first of two to be released today, contains the applicant guidelines and policy justifications, gleaned from more than 1,000 comments and roundtable meetings, in Washington, Arizona and Nevada.

In the first of three rounds, $4 billion will be available, but not all of the funds will be in grants. NTIA, which only has grant making authority, will release $1.6 billion dollars in grants, but the majority of RUS funds will be in loan/grant combinations.

RUS will release $2.4 billion dollars in the first round. Of the RUS funds, $400 million will be for grants for remote areas, $800 million will be in loan/grant combinations for non-remote areas, $800 million will be loan/grant combinations for middle mile facilities, and $320 million will be held in reserve.

The numbers stated by the Department of Agriculture is the effective amount of funds available. A senior official estimated that the 1.6 billion in loan/grant combos would cost $400 million in stimulus funds, which includes the grant portion, and the “cost of money” to loan the money.

The NOFA also contains the much-anticipated definitions of broadband, unserved and underserved areas.

Broadband is defined as a two-way service that advertises speeds of 768 kilobits (kbps) down and 200 kbps up. A senior official from NTIA stated that this speed would allow funding to the areas needing it most, although higher speeds are desired.

Unserved and underserved are defined in terms of facilities-based, terrestrial broadband, both fixed and mobile. This definition ignores satellite service, since satellite effectively covers the entire country. Satellite service providers are eligible for funding under the NOFA.

An unserved area is one or more Census Blocks where 90 percent of households do not have access to facilities-based broadband.

An underserved area, for “last mile” funding purposes can be designated by meeting one of three criteria: (1)  No more than 50 percent of households have access to facilities-based terrestrial broadband; (2) no fixed or mobile provider advertises speeds of at least 3 megabits per second (Mbps); and (3) the rate of subscribership is 40 percent or less.

An area can be designed as underserved for “middle mile” projects if one interconnection point terminates in a “last mile” underserved area.

A second NOFA is scheduled to be released today, one that allocates $250 million for state level maps. These funds are available to the governor of the state, or the governor’s designee.

There will be strict criteria for these maps, which will be detailed in the forthcoming NOFA. The data from these maps will be used to create the national broadband map, part of the Broadband Data Improvement Act, also funded through the Recovery Act.

The states will be called upon to rank the projects in their states once NTIA and the Department of Agriculture determine the finalists.

The NOFA also sets the Federal Communiations Commission’s Internet Policy Statement as a floor for its non-discrimination principles.

Applications for the first round will be accepted from July 14 to August 14.

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State Broadband Offices Need to Increase Their Capacity, Improve Data, and Communicate Well

NTIA’s Evan Feinman spoke about what states need to keep in mind as they prepare for BEAD funds.



Photo of Evan Feinman from AEI

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration webinar event on Tuesday focused on the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Notice of Funding Opportunity. The webinar highlighted three important items to keep in mind as states begin to receive money for broadband planning.

The first, according to Evan Feinman, deputy associate administrator for BEAD, was for states to consider your office’s capacity. Each state will receive a minimum of $100 million. Very few states have the human resources required to adequately run a program of this magnitude, he said.

The second is to build up research and data collections of broadband coverage at a state level. The Federal Communications Commission will soon release a new mapping system. It will be necessary, said Feinman, to “engage meaningfully” with these maps using state’s own research and data. Furthermore, states should have the necessary data to engage with internet service providers and the NTIA as they determine who is served and unserved.

Third, states should develop a clear-cut plan for outreach and communication support with stakeholders. Stakeholders include telecom providers, tribal governments, local governments, and community organizations.

The planning step is a great point for stakeholders to become involved in the process, said Feinman. “There is an expectation that lives throughout this program that folks are going to engage really thoroughly and in an outgoing way with their stakeholders.”

See other articles on the NTIA webinars issues in the wake of the Notices of Funding Opportunity on the Broadband.Money community:

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Treasury Department Joins FCC, USDA and NTIA in Collaborating on Broadband Funding

Agency leaders sign pact to formalize information-sharing on broadband deployment projects.



Photo of Janet Yellen from January 2018 by the European Central Bank

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2022—Just in advance of the deadline for the release of the funding requirements under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, the four principal federal agencies responsible for broadband funding released an interagency agreement to share information about and collaborate regarding the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics relating to broadband deployment.

The agencies are the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The Memorandum of Understanding is the latest development in federal efforts to coordinate high-speed internet spending, and the Treasury Department is the new addition to agreement.

The other three agencies signed a prior memorandum in June 2021 to coordinate the distribution of federal high-speed internet funds. That June 2021 Memorandum of Understanding remains in effect.

The respective Cabinet and Agency leaders announced that their agencies will consult with one another and share information on data collected from programs administered by the FCC, the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, programs administered or coordinated by NTIA, and Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

“No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to high-speed internet to have a fair shot at 21st century success. The FCC, NTIA, USDA and Treasury are working together like never before to meet this shared goal,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Our new interagency agreement will allow us to collaborate more efficiently and deepen our current data sharing relationships[and] get everyone, everywhere connected to the high-speed internet they need.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America. High-speed internet is the new electricity.  It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, to have access to health care and to stay connected.”

“USDA remains committed to being a strong partner with rural communities and our state, Tribal and federal partners in building ‘future-proof’ broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas so that we finally reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage across the country.”

“Our whole-of-government effort to expand broadband adoption must be coordinated and efficient if we are going to achieve our mission,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and head of the NTIA, the agency responsible for administering the vast bulk of the broadband funding.

“This MOU will allow us to build the tools we need for even better data-sharing and transparency in the future,” he said.

“Treasury is proud to work with our federal agency partners to achieve President Biden’s goal of closing the nation’s digital divide,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen.  “Access to affordable, high-speed internet is critical to the continued strength of our economy and a necessity for every American household, school, and business.”

As part of the signed agreement, each federal agency partner will share information about projects that have received or will receive funding from the previously mentioned federal funding sources.  More information on what the interagency Memorandum of Understanding entails can be found on the FCC’s website.  The agreement is effective at the date of its signing, May 11, 2022.

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FCC and NTIA Chiefs Name Jessica Quinley, Douglas Brake and Timothy May to Advisory Committees

NTIA representatives to join FCC technology and security committees, FCC rep on spectrum committee



Photo of Doug Brake from Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2022—Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alan Davidson on Friday named staff representatives to participate on each other’s advisory committees. The effort is a component of the Spectrum Coordination Initiative of the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department.

As part of the initiative, the agencies are working with each other and the private sector.

“To succeed as spectrum partners, the FCC and NTIA must hear from and listen to each other in both formal and informal ways,” said Rosenworcel.

“A common understanding of spectrum engineering and market conditions is essential for the success of our efforts at the FCC and NTIA to manage the country’s spectrum resources,” said Davidson.

Rosenworcel named Jessica Quinley of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to participate as an observer in NTIA’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. Quinley currently serves as an Acting Legal Advisor in the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. She was an attorney at NTIA for more than four years.

Davidson named Douglas Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist, and Timothy May, a Senior Advisor, to participate in the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council and its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council, respectively.

Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist with NTIA, previously directed the broadband and spectrum policy work at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.  May currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary where he has worked for four years.  Before joining NTIA, he was a Policy Analyst in the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

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