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Compromise Reached On Stimulus Bill

Conferencing Democrats and Republicans have come to terms on a compromise stimulus bill. That means the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program is one step closer to getting the money it needs to start the subsidy money flowing again.

The bill has $650 million for the coupon program, including some transition money the FCC says it will need to administer the change of date from Feb. 17 to June 12. The change was spurred in part by the slowdown in that program due to the lack of access to funds.

The compromise also means billions of dollars in grants and tax incentives for the buildout of broadband, at least once the bill is passed.

According to Public Knowledge, the compromise bill contains open network, interconnection and nondiscrimination provisions attached to the grant money, which will be distributed by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), with some help from the FCC in defining who qualifies for the money.

“The open network requirements were necessary because the public deserves benefits from the large sums of public money that will be distributed," said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. "We are pleased that Congress has taken the fundamental step of recognizing that open networks will help to create jobs and to stimulate economic activity in areas that are now unserved with broadband service.”

"I’m grateful to the House Democrats for starting this process, and for members in the House and Senate for moving it along with the urgency that this moment demands,” the president said Wednesday.