NTIA Posts Online Database Of Broadband Stimulus Funding Bids

As promised, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration has posted an online database of the bids submitted for the first of the $7.2 million broadband stimulus funding.

NTIA said Wednesday that the approximately 2,200 bids came from five territories and the District of Columbia in addition to all 50 states.

The cable bids ranged from an operator seeking a combination grant and loan to an ugrade to all-fiber for a system serving an Indian reservation in North Carolina ($2,685,600 grant/$75,000 loan), to a last-mile project to expand service to over 8,000 homes in Pahrump, NV ($5,642,974).

There were also bids for computer centers in Spokane ($1,283,723), software to manage recreation facilities in Atlanta ($15,083), and a PBS initiative with eight stations to promote demand for educational broadband content ($8,744,607).

NTIA and the Ag Department have $7.2 billion in funds from the economic stimulus package.

This is the first of three planned tranches of funding. The finalists for this first round will be announced no earlier than Sept, 14. An NTIA spokesperson could not provide any timetable for when those names would be released.

NTIA also said every state was elibigle to apply for grants for a broadband data-collection effort, either directly or through a designated entity. That data will be used to create an interactive, national broadband map that NTIA has to create by Feb. 17, 2011, two years after the FCC has to come up with a national broadband plan.

NTIA said Wednesday that it has decided to fund that mapping effort for the two years necessary to produce that map, rather than the initial five-year time line, saying that was more fiscally prudent. It also said that initial bids for the mapping program totalled about $100 million. It has a total of $350 million to spend on mapping.

Broadband planning is also eligible for funds. NTIA said those will remain five-year projects, and that so far, 52 bidders have sought $26 million for planning, which can include identifying barriers to adoption.

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.