The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Rural Utilities Service made another $4.8 billion dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants and loans for broadband expansion and adoption throughout the United States. It is the second round of funding for broadband expansion throughout the U.S.
The first allocation will be approximately $2.6 billion dollars, $2.35 billion of which will be made available for infrastructure projects. The agencies plan to accept applications from February 16, 2010, to March 15, 2010, and will announce all awards by September 30, 2010. The NTIA’s approach involves giving money to projects that connect municipal institutions like hospitals, community colleges and public safety institutions.
The NTIA will also give $150 million dollars to the Public Computer Center projects, expanding access to broadband connection and increasing capacity at public libraries and other public institutions that service the general public. It will also award at least $100 million for broadband education and training in areas where broadband technology is underutilized.
“In response to lessons learned from the first funding round, RUS is making important changes that will make the process easier for applicants and target our resources toward “last-mile‟ broadband connections to homes and businesses,” said Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. “This draws on our long experience in improving rural networks to the most difficult-to-reach areas of our country that need it most. We’ve streamlined the application process, added support for satellite service for rural residents left unserved after other funds are awarded, and provided ourselves more flexibility to target areas of greatest need.”
RUS will feature funds for last mile projects and will also fund middle mile projects involving current RUS program participants. There will be two funding options – grants up to 100 percent in remote rural areas, and 50/50 loan/grant appropriation. There will also be a base 75/2 grant/loan combination allowing for flexibility for RUS to seek a waiver if additional money is needed for areas that are difficult to serve and a priority for those seeking less money. This strategy will promote rural economic development.
A second funding window will open later this year. It will provide grants for satellite service for people that remain unserved after all other Recovery Act broadband funding is awarded. There will also be Technical Assistance grants for developing plans using broadband for regional economic development, and grants to provide broadband … Read the rest