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On January 15, 2010, both the NTIA and RUS released separate Funding Availability for $4.8 Billion in Broadband Grants (pdf). The agencies announced the rules in two separate Notices that promote each agency’s distinct objectives.

This is the second and final round of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).

The two federal agencies are in charge of disbursing $7.2 billion. About $2.4 billion already has been set aside through the first funding window. An estimated $4.8 billion remains for the 2nd round. The NTIA will focus its $2.6 billion share on “middle-mile” projects, while the RUS will direct the bulk of its $2.2 billion on “last-mile” initiatives.

The two agencies also announced the launch of BroadbandMatch, where users can post a profile and search for similar partners.

The Recovery Act appropriated $7.2 billion to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S. The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) are overseeing these grants.

The US Government announced the first broadband grant awards in December, 2009. The $182 million announced in December accounted for only 9 percent of the $2 billion that will be dispensed by the end of February. In turn, that $2 billion represents only 27 percent of the $7.2 billion in federal funding allocated for broadband stimulus grants.

You can search the Round One applications yourself. Winners of Round One should be announced in February.

This week the government announced the rules for Round Two funding:

  • The NTIA is allocating approximately $2.6 billion in this funding round. Approximately $2.35 billion will be made available for infrastructure projects, focusing on middle mile broadband projects that connect key community anchor institutions – such as libraries, hospitals, community colleges, universities, and public safety institutions. In addition, NTIA plans to award at least $150 million of the funding for Public Computer Center projects, which will expand access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at public libraries, community colleges, and other institutions that service the general public.
  • Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service is allocating approximately $2.2 billion in this funding round. RUS will focus this round on last mile projects, which are anticipated to receive the vast majority of funding. RUS will also fund middle mile projects involving current RUS program participants. The first Funding notice had two funding options – grants up to 100 percent in remote rural areas, and 50/50 loan/grant combinations in non-remote rural areas. Now RUS has more flexibility to seek a waiver if additional grant resources are needed for areas that are difficult to serve.

NTIA and RUS also announced a series of public workshops to review the application process and answer questions from prospective applicants. The workshops will be held in Portland, Ore.; Reno, Nev.; Denver, Colo.; San Antonio, Tex.; Eureka, Mo.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Detroit, Mich.; Blacksburg, Va.; Fayetteville, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga. Interested parties can register for the workshops at www.broadbandusa.gov.

The agencies plan to accept applications from February 16, 2010, to March 15, 2010, and announce all awards by September 30, 2010.

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