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NTIA: Big Interest in Broadband Bucks

NTIA

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) would need almost ten times its $288 million in broadband buildout grant money to satisfy all the applications for the money.

NTIA said Tuesday it has received more than 230 applications totaling more than $2.5 billion in requests.

The funding, allocated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act provide for buildouts of fixed broadband service, is going to a variety of entities including state and local governments. The Biden Administration has put its thumb on the scale for municipal buildouts, something that has troubled cable broadband operators concerned about overbuilds, about definitions of broadband availability that include competition and price, and their arguments that the history of muni buildouts is often one of failed projects and taxpayers left holding the bag.

Also Read: More Muni, More Money

The application window for the NTIA grants closed Aug. 17.

The applicants will be competing--NTIA said given the amount sought and the amount available it will be very competitive--to provide broadband to the greatest number of households in an eligible area the most cost-effectively and with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload of at least 20 Mbps.

“The intense demand for this program across the country demonstrates the widespread need for better broadband connectivity in unserved communities,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

She pointed out that more needed to be done and could be done if the House passes the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, with its $65 billion for broadband. Currently the bill is caught up in a Democratic effort to tie its passage to the Dems' $3.5 trillion budget plan.

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.