Just think of it as match.com for broadband applicants.
The National Telecommunications & Information Administration and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service have unveiled an online tool, BroadbandMatch to help match up potential partners in broadband rollout projects.
The agencies are teaming to hand out over $7 billion in broadband stimulus funds. While the first round of bidders is already in the can and winners are being announced over the next several weeks, the second round has yet to start.
For that round, bidders will be able to go to the Web site to find partners for project. Say, an infrastructure company might hook up with a school, library or hospital -- all anchor institutions getting special consideration for money.
Anybody looking to bid can post their profiles online -- though the idea is to post attractive features like how much money they are willing to kick in rather than eye color or favorite band.
"In the first funding round, many applicants wanted to form partnerships but didn't know how best to locate other organizations with similar aims and complementary resources," said NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling in announcing the online effort. "BroadbandMatch is a tool to help stakeholders collaborate, which can spur the highest caliber, most effective proposals for this crucial Recovery Act funding."
NTIA has promised to take steps to improve the bidding process easier after criticisms from industry, public advocacy groups, Congress and the Government Accountability Office.
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