NTIA Hands Out Another Half-Bil In Broadband Bucks

With the Sept. 30 deadline approaching to hand out the broadband stimulus bucks, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration Monday announced another $482.4 million spread over 35 grants.

That came on top of the $35.9 million in grants to Hawaii for high-speed infrastructure and computer centers announced late Friday.

Ten of the grants announced Monday, representing the vast majority of all funding (approximately $350 million), will go toward infrastructure build-out in 10 states. Another 11 grants are going to public computer centers in 11 states. That leaves 14 more for "sustainable adoption" in 12 states (New York got two grants, one for downstate, one for upstate) and the virgin Islands.

The projects range from a $39.3 million grant for a middle mile project in Arizona to 1,000 new computer workstations at Auburn University in Alabama.

All of the grants require some matching funds from the grantee.

NTIA chief Larry Strickling told B&C last month, with still about $2.5 billion to give out, that NTIA would meet its Sept. 30 deadline of handing out about $4 billion in broadband stimulus funds (the Agriculture Department is giving out another $3 billion in grants and loans for rural broadband.)So far, NTIA has given out $3.6 billion.

Colorado got the biggest single grant at $100 million to offer middle mile service, with a focus on rural and "underserved" schools.

Cable operators are concerned some of the money will wind up overbuilding existing plants rather than deploying it to areas devoid of service. Strickling says the idea of the program was never to focus on unserved households, but instead to "award money to projects where we could meet the greatest level of need."

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.