Broadband Carriers Clamor for Stimulus Funds

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The federal agencies in charge of awarding broadband stimulus funds say that they've received roughly 2,200 applications for the $4 billion worth of grants available for broadband projects in the United States.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) say that the 2,200 applications received have proposed approximately $28 billion worth of broadband projects, or seven times the funding currently available.

The majority of applications filed with the agencies are for proposed infrastructure projects. According to the agencies, companies filed 1,490 applications for infrastructure grants totaling around $23.2 billion worth of projects. The agencies also received 320 applications requesting a total of $2.5 billion for projects that "promote broadband education, awareness, training... and support," as well as 360 applications requesting $1.9 billion in grants to help build or expand public computer centers. Both the NTIA and the RUS say they will create a searchable online database in the near future that will provide more details on all the applications they received.

RUS administrator Jonathan Adelstein, who until recently had served as a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, said the agencies were extremely satisfied with the large number of applications they have received so far.

"The overwhelming response we received underscores the extensive interest in expanding broadband across the country," he said. "Rural communities clearly recognize that broadband can expand their economic opportunities and create jobs."

The $4 billion in grants currently available to applicants is just the first part of the $7.2 billion that the government has allotted to fund broadband infrastructure investment over the next two years. Of that money, $4.7 billion has been given to the NTIA to award grants for projects that will build out broadband infrastructure in un-served or under-served areas; to deliver broadband capabilities for public safety agencies; and to stimulate broadband demand through training and education. The remaining $2.5 billion in broadband stimulus money has been allotted to the Department of Agriculture to make loans to companies building out broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

The broadband grants are being awarded as part of the larger $787 billion economic stimulus package passed into law earlier this year.

This story, "Broadband Carriers Clamor for Stimulus Funds" was originally published by Network World.

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