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Stimulus Players to Convene For Broadband Event

Sources confirm that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will travel to Wattsburg, Pa., Wednesday for a broadband-related event that will unite some major players.

Also scheduled to attend the event are Vice President Joe Biden, who hails from Scranton; Commerce Secretary Gary Locke; and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

They will reportedly talk about the broadband initiative in the economic stimulus package. The venue will be Seneca High School.

There may be only a few billion in the stimulus package for broadband deployment, but the issue is big with the Obama administration since it implicates everything from telemedicine and energy to education, agriculture and even, say some groups, full citizenship in an increasingly wired nation. For example, some local governments grant discounts for online applications, essentially taxing those without ready Internet access.

The meeting of those particular minds suggests that NTIA and the USDA's Rural Utilities Service, will likely by that time have released their guidelines for the $7.5 billion in economic stimulus money they must give out over the next couple of years.

For its part, NTIA told Congress that the guidelines would be out by "early summer," and speculation has increasingly centered on June 30 as the magic day, though NTIA spokespeople say it never set that date officially.

Potential bidders have been waiting to see just how the process will be set up, including what access and interconnection conditions will be placed on the money.