83 ACA Members File For $1.3 Billion In Broadband Grants

The American Cable Association said Thursday that its members applied for about $1.3 billion in federal Broadband stimulus grants, but that more would have applied if some onerous restrictions were removed.

The broadband stimulus is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and set aside $7.2 billion in funding for broadband projects in rural and underserved areas of the country. The plan is being administered by two federal agencies - the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.

The first round of funding closed in August.

According to the ACA, more than 83 of its 900 members applied for grants, including NPG Cable, Wave Broadband, Boycom Cablevision and NewWave Communications.

Both agencies received about 2,200 applications in the first round seeking $28 billion in combined funding for broadband facilities, awareness programs, training, support and the construction of local computer centers, according to the NTIA.

"Although many ACA members applied for grants and loans, the turnout would have been greater if the federal government had not attached funding restrictions that made it more difficult for small cable companies to apply," ACA president and CEO Matt Polka said in a statement.

"For instance, ACA members that didn't seek funding noted that the federal government's insistence on holding the first lien would have violated terms and conditions contained in many existing bank loan agreements, making applying for the program impossible. The 10-year prohibition on the sale of federally funded projects was also cited as a deterrent to participation by ACA members. We hope these onerous restrictions will be lifted before applications for the second round are due."