The current August 20 deadline for Broadband Stimulus proposals is only the deadline for Round One of the stimulus funding, notes Robb Henshaw, Director of Marketing & Communications at Proxim Wireless.
The NTIA and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have already stated that there will be two additional rounds (Round Two and Round Three) in the future. Though the deadlines for those additional rounds have yet to be announced, all of the $7.2 billion in stimulus funding must be distributed by September 30, 2010 (just over a year from now), so the Round Two deadline will likely not be too far out, he notes in a commentary on WiMAX.com.
There are two programs that make up this $7.2 billion in funding, and those are the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). The NTIA is expected to distribute up to $1.6 billion in the first round of the BTOP program, and the RUS is expected to distribute up to $2.4 billion in the first round of the BIP program.
If both organizations distribute the maximum in this first round, that will equal a total of $4 billion in Round One funding. That leaves an additional $3.2 billion to be distributed over the next two rounds – and more if the full amount is not distributed in Round One.
So, even if you have missed the first round deadline – you will still have two more opportunities to apply.
Some $6.39 billion in the stimulus bill will be targeted for broadband and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Other funds are targeted for mapping and other related investments.
- The NTIA will be responsible for a total of $3.9 billion in grants. Recipients will have to underwrite up 20% of the proposed project’s cost, though hardship waivers will be available. The assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and the Federal Communications Commission will establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and ensure that it doesn’t conflict with other federal broadband initiatives (pdf). It is anticipated that there will be at least one grant in every state. Those funds will go through each governor’s office. In Oregon, for example, The Oregon Way Advisory Group – will advise and assist state agencies.
- The Rural Utilities Service will dole out $2.5 billion in grants, loans and loan guarantees. The USDA’s $2.5 billion for broadband spending requires that at least 75 percent of any area must lack sufficient broadband service “to facilitate rural economic development as determined by the secretary of Agriculture.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that USDA will have $63 million to spend in fiscal 2009 and $350 million in fiscal 2010. Spending will peak at $587 million in fiscal 2011 and decrease in the following years until finishing at $125 million in fiscal 2015.
The USDA says 55% of U.S. adults had broadband access as of 2007, but the number drops to around 4% when measuring adults in rural households. Among rural households with an Internet connection, 70% have broadband, while that number jumps to 84% for urban households.
Clusters of lower service exist in sparsely populated areas, such as the Dakotas, eastern Montana, northern Minnesota, and eastern Oregon. Other low-service areas, such as the Missouri-Iowa border and Appalachia, have aging and declining numbers of residents.
Proxim has a comprehensive list of grants, funding opportunities and resources (registration required). Proxim’s Government Grant Resource Guide provides an overview of the options that are available to help fund wireless broadband networks.
The CTC authored Rural Reference Model (pdf) will help operators in their planning and budgeting process as it supplies baseline references, technical capability, and integration with other systems, says the company. It reviews the costs and benefits of delivering the last mile by various flavors of WiFi and WiMAX.
Alvarion also offers a complete line of RUS-accepted solutions with “Buy American” status using a range of unlicensed, semi-licensed and licensed frequencies. Alvarion says you can build your rural wireless network using 3.65, 5.3, 5.4, 5.8, 4.9, 2.3 or 2.5 GHz and qualify for funding by using RUS-accepted Alvarion solutions if you are currently working on projects to bring wireless broadband access to rural communities or have plans to develop such projects.
It is important to realize that the Round Two and Round Three deadlines will likely come and go just as quickly as the Round One deadlines, says Henshaw – so it is critical for every organization to begin preparing immediately.
The August 17, 2009, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Quarterly Status Report lists the following Program Materials:
- Federal Register Notice: Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and solicitation of
applications for the Broadband Initiatives Program and Broadband Technology
Opportunities Program. Available:
- Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Fact Sheet. Available:
- Federal Register Notice: Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the State Broadband
Data and Development Grant Program. Available:
- State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program Fact Sheet. Available:
- Grant Guidelines for the Recovery Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
- BTOP/BIP Frequently Asked Questions. Available:
- Federal Register Notice: Buy American Exemption under the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009. Available:
- Federal Register Notice: State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program
- Federal Register Notice: Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and Broadband
Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Extension of Application Closing Deadline
for Pending Electronic Applications. Available: