TMCnews Featured Article

February 04, 2010

Will Qwest Bid for Broadband Stimulus?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Qwest (News - Alert) seems to be taking another look at applying for 'broadband stimulus' funds after a significant change of rules by the Rural Utilities Service and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Denver Business Journal reports.

It appears that the rules changes, which originally barred 'rural' projects within 60 miles of a city or town, have been amended in ways that could provide Qwest with what it needs to apply.

'The good news is that they seem to have heard us in Washington, D.C.,' says Chuck Ward, Qwest's Colorado president.

The changes may have altered the economics enough for Qwest and others to seek some of the money. 'Almost' enough to spur grant requests is about all Qwest will say for the moment.

Qwest is checking whether specific broadband infrastructure expansions, which could have qualified to be only half-funded in the first round, now become economically feasible under second-round rules that qualify the same projects for grants of up to 75 percent of construction costs.

“We’ll see,' says Ward. 'We’ve put everybody back to work and dusted off the analysis we did for the first round.'

Of the 48 applications covering broadband infrastructure projects in Colorado, only a $1.5 million project proposed by the Peetz Cooperative Telephone Co. on the Nebraska border has been funded.

Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications (News - Alert) has received requests for due-diligence information on at least two projects it applied to have funded. All of its applications were for infrastructure expansion in other states.

The change would be a major shift for Qwest, which like other large incumbents originally found the bidding rules too onerous.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard