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NTIA Says BTOP Delivered on Broadband Promises

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration is marking the end this week of its $4 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) broadband subsidy program under the 2009 Recovery Act, declaring it a success.

In a speech at a BroadbandUSA regional broadband workshop in Portland, Me., Monday, NTIA head Lawrence Strickling was taking stock of a program that has drawn fire from congressional Republicans and some cable operators over how it was spending those subsidies, both in terms of potential misuse and of how targeted it was, or wasn't, to areas where there was no service, while congressional Democrats have praised it as a success.

Strickling said the program financed 230 projects that deployed more than 114,000 miles of new or upgraded plant, as well as upgrading or launching public computer centers and promoting adoption. He said the new plant had connected "nearly 26,000 community anchor institutions such as schools and hospitals and installed or upgraded more than 47,000 personal computers in public access centers."

Strickling also said that translated into "hundreds of thousands of people as subscribers to broadband services."

"Six years ago when this program began, we made a promise to communities across the country that would benefit from this funding: The Obama Administration’s investment in broadband would create jobs, stimulate economic development, spur private-sector investment, and open up new opportunities in employment, education and healthcare," Strickling told his audience. "Most important, it would improve lives. Today I am proud to say we delivered on those pledges."

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.