TMCnews Featured Article

October 29, 2009

Broadband Stimulus Delays Spur Congressional Frustration

By Marisa Torrieri, TMCnet Editor

Now that applicants for the first round of broadband stimulus funding have learned that they’ll have to wait  at least another month before knowing whether they’ll get any money from the government, elected officials are taking issue with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service.
Influential senators reportedly expressed concerns about the broadband stimulus program during an oversight hearing Tuesday.
“There shouldn’t be two of you here. Only in the federal government would we have two people doing the same thing,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., reportedly said during the hearing, referring to RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein and NTIA Chief Larry Strickling. “If I could wave a magic wand I would morph you into one person and combine your two agencies with the snap of fingers.”
McCaskill joined a number of senators who publicly criticized criteria that could prevent some rural areas within 50 miles of urban centers from being eligible for the grants. 
Senators urged the regulators to address the matter, prompting Adelstein to assure hearing attendees that the agency will be open in evaluating the applications.
But no news may become good news as soon as mid-December -- one month after the first round of award grants were expected to be finalized and award recipients notified.

Federal officials reportedly have attributed the delay to the large amount of applicants: More than 2,200 applied for almost four times the amount of money available in total.

Strickling also said that the few extra weeks will be used to really get into the logistics and get the situation in order in preparation for money delegations. 

“We absolutely understand the need to get the dollars out,” Strickling said. 

Marisa Torrieri is a TMCnet Web editor, covering IP hardware and mobility, including IP phones, smartphones, fixed-mobile convergence and satellite technology. She also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet's gadgets and satellite e-Newsletters. To read more of Marisa's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri