It’s D-Day for Broadband Stimulus Round Two


by Bernie Arnason

Both NTIA and RUS are now accepting applications for the second round of the broadband stimulus program.  The program officially opened at 8:00a ET today and applicants have until March 15th to apply. There was some speculation that the D.C. ‘snowmaggedon’ blizzards of the past couple weeks, which shut the federal government down for an unprecedented four days, would delay the opening. But the BroadbandUSA.gov website states everything is on schedule.

There are significant changes between round one and round two of the program. Both the BTOP and BIP programs have issued presentations to summarize the differences (click on BTOP or BIP to access them). The changes to the program came about in part by a request for information (RFI) for suggestions in streamlining the round two process. The government received 225 comments offering suggestions.

Here’s the funding breakdown for the two programs in round two:

BIP

  • Last Mile projects: $1.7 Billion (75% grant & 25% loan)
  • Middle Mile projects: $300 Million (75% grant & 25% loan)
  • Satellite projects: $100 Million (100% grant)
  • Rural Library Broadband & Technical Assistance projects: $5 Million (100% grant)

BTOP

  • Approximately $2.35 billion for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure  (or Middle Mile Broadband) projects
  • At least $150 million for Public Computer Center projects
  • At least $100 million for Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects

One of the major differences from round one is a separate application process, meaning applicants need to pick a program (BIP or BTOP) and apply directly to it. In round one, applicants could, in effect, apply for both with a single application.

As we’ve noted before, the program should see considerably more activity in 2010, considering all funding needs to be committed by September 2010. Less than 25% of the total funding has been committed so far.

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