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NTIA and RUS Outline Second Round of Broadband Stimulus Bidding

The National Telecommunications & Information
Association and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service have
announced the second round of bidding--and in RUS' case, a third round--for the
balance of broadband stimulus funding, even before it has announced most of the
winners of the first round of bidding.

And unlike the first round, the two will solicit bids

NTIA and RUS said Friday the additional $4.8 billion would
be handed out under new rules that will make it easier to apply for the money,
and better target it where it is needed.

The program, part of the administration's stimulus package,
was criticized by participants and legislators for rules they said made it
difficult to apply.

NTIA and the Ag Department's Rural Utilities Service issued
separate notices of fund availability (NOFAs) that they said reflected their
"distinct objectives."  The RUS
money, as its name suggests, goes to rural areas for broadband deployment and
adoption, while NTIA's money can go to urban areas as well. NTIA also can use
its money to seed loans, while NTIA's is grant money.

NTIA's second round of money is $2.6 billion, of which $2.35
billion will go to infrastructure, $150 million to public computer centers and
$100 million to adoption programs.

RUS's NOFA has $2.2 billion, and it says it will actually
open a third funding window for satellite service grants.

RUS will focus on so-called last-mile projects that reach
homes and businesses.

The pair also said they would be launching a series of
workshops on its application process to help applicants navigate the new rules.

The application window opens Feb. 16 and closes March 15.

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.