TMCnews Featured Article

October 01, 2009

Broadband Stimulus Program Changes Loom

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Days after one of its leaders announced a target date of early November for the first round of broadband stimulus funding grant awards, the federal agency that oversees much of the nation’s telecom policy-making reportedly said that rules governing the popular program will undergo changes.
According to the editor of one Washington, D.C.-based provider of news and data about broadband access and deployment, the chief of staff at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – the U.S. Department of Commerce agency that advises the president on telecom policy – said changes to the broadband stimulus program could take hold later this month, following a comment period.
Drew Clark, editor of, reports that Tom Power also said that there are many advantages to consolidating the final two rounds of the broadband stimulus program into a single, final application period.
“We are considering eliminating the third round, and going to a second round” for all applications, Power said, according to Clark. “We haven’t decided that yet.”
“The advantage [of eliminating the final round] is that we might be able to give people a little more time after the NoFA [Notice of Funds Availability] comes out,” he said, Clark reports. “We would love to give more time for folks to prepare applications.”
The news comes just a few days after the agency’s deputy administrator and deputy assistant secretary for communications and information, Anna Gomez, speaking at a wireless show in Nashville, said that all grants will be announced, hopefully, by Dec. 31.

As Phil Goldstein notes in this article for FierceWireless (News - Alert) – a publication of FierceMarkets – NTIA would expect to receive a second round of apps by late winter.
“Currently, the NTIA is deciding whether to combine the second round of applications with a third round, though Gomez emphasized that a decision had not been made either way,” Goldstein reported.

“Additionally, the NTIA is set to receive broadband mapping data from states by February,” Goldstein reported. “The data will include deployment information, advertised speeds and types of service, she said, which will be used to identify where the greatest needs are for broadband in unserved and underserved areas. By February 2011, the NTIA is expected to have an interactive, national broadband map in place.”
Now, Power reportedly said, individual applicants may get more time to prepare their packages for submission to the NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service, and that eliminating the third round would mean that “we can get the money out the door” sooner.
That, he said, “ties into one of the fundamental points (of the broadband stimulus program): while this a broadband program, it is also a stimulus program.”

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan