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Comments On Broadband Grant Program Due At NTIA, RUS

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 (NTIA) and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and comment on a rural rollout strategy due at the FCC.

One group that wasn't waiting around to make its position clear was the American Cable Association (ACA), 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" defined as 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 505 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. The FCC will consult on the process as well as come up with a national broadband rollout plan that will 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.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.