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ACA: Broadband Funding Should Go To Unserved, Underserved Areas

It is rush hour in Washington for broadband comments, with input on the economic stimulus package's broadband grant program due at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and the Agricultural Department's Rural Utilities Service and comment on a rurual rollout strategy due at theFederal Communications Commission.

One group that wasn't waiting around to make its position clear was the American Cable Association, which represents smaller and midsized operators.

In an outline of its multiple filings, ACA said it wanted the government to provide funds to both underserved and unserved areas. ACA wants those two to be defined by speed, with "unserved" meaning an area where less than 50% of the households don't have access to 1.5 megabytes per second downstream and 128 Kbps upstream. and underserved defined as 50% without access to 5 mbps.

ACA says any network neutrality or interconnection requirements should be confined to so-called middle mile infrastruture and only to infrastructure funded by the government grants and loans, rather than other infrastructure owned by the money recipient.

It also wants a short-form grant application for "smaller entities," like its members, for grants below $5 million.

NTIA and the RUS have $7.2 billion in grant and loan money to hand out, while the FCC will consult on the process, as well as come up with a national broadband rollout plan that will obviously have to dovetail with the NTIA and RUS grants/loans, whose goal is to make it easier to achieve the goal of both ubiquitous broadband availability and usage.