NTIA, RUS Release Status Report on Broadband Stimulus Funds

Government agencies have worked "expeditiously, to ensure that [broadband stimulus] funds are distributed quickly, efficiently and fairly."

That is from the summary of a joint report by the National Telecommunications & Information Admnistration and the Rural Utilities Service to Congress, its third in a series of status reports required by Congress.

The pair are handing out $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), and have taken some criticism from industry and Congress over the applications process, including percieved disincentives to bidding, and process and definitional issues.

The first round of bidding generated more than $38 billion worth of proposals, said the report, combining the $28 billion in government grant and loan money requested combined with $10.5 billion in matching funds.

NTIA and RUS have pushed back their deadline for awarding those first grants and loans until December 2009, and for completing the award process by February 2010. It had originally planned to be done by year's end.

They have also decided to have only one more round of funding, rather than the "at least"  two more they had initially considered. That second round will start at about the same time the first is ending, if not before, if it stays on track to start that process by "early in 2010."

NTIA and RUS have asked for comment on how to make the applications smoother, simpler and better, and signaled it will make some changes after catching heat from applicants and the Hill.

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.