Posts Tagged ‘RUS’

RUS Receives 776 Applications for Broadband Stimulus Round Two

April 20, 2010
4/19/10 at 12:49 PM by Joan Engebretson

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) said late last week that it received 776 applications in the second round of broadband stimulus funding requesting nearly $11.2 billion. The RUS was given a total of $2.5 billion to administer in two funding rounds and awarded less than half in the first round.

The total number of applications was down from the 1230-plus the agency received in the first funding round. But that’s not surprising, considering changes in application rules. In the first round applicants were allowed to submit the same application to the RUS and the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), which then determined which agency—if either—would grant the award. In the second round, an individual application could go to only one agency.

The NTIA received 867 applications in the second round, down from 1090 in the first round. While all RUS applications are for infrastructure projects, only 355 of the NTIA applications in this round–totaling $8.4 billion–were for infrastructure projects.

In the second round the NTIA is focusing on broadband infrastructure projects that connect community anchor institutions, while the RUS focuses primarily on last mile projects aimed at reaching end users. All NTIA awards are in the form of grants, while the RUS can make awards that involve a combination of a grant and a loan. It would appear the odds of an individual infrastructure project receiving funding from the NTIA in this round are better than the odds of being funded by the RUS, as the NTIA still has approximately $2.35 billion available for infrastructure awards.

Among the largest carriers, only those who previously announced plans to apply in this round have done so. Neither AT&T nor Verizon nor any major cable or wireless company will be found on the applicant list. But as previously announced Qwest, TDS Telecom and Windstream made applications, as did Iowa Telecom.

Many applicants were small incumbent telcos and organizations that apparently were created with the goal of applying for broadband funding. Among all the last mile applications, FTTH appears to be the most popular last mile broadband technology.

USDA Concludes Broadband Stimulus Round 1 with $22 Million Native American Award

March 31, 2010

USDA Press Release via StimulatingBroadband.com 03/30/2010 Washington – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of the Reservation Telephone Cooperative infrastructure broadband project to give rural residents of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and the surrounding area access to improved economic and educational opportunities. The service area includes parts of Montana and North Dakota.

Chairman Marcus Levings, of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the
Fort Berthold Reservation, ND, speaks to President Obama during
the Native American Summit of 11/05/2009 held at Dept. of the
Interior (Photo: Doug Mills, New York Times)

 

Today’s announcement concludes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first round of broadband funding announcements through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). Applications filed under the second and final round are under review and will be announced before the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

“The Recovery Act broadband projects announced by USDA will open up educational, job and business opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Americans living in rural areas,” said Vilsack. “As President Obama said earlier this month, ‘America today is on the verge of a broadband-driven Internet era that will unleash innovation, create new jobs and industries, provide consumers with new powerful sources of information, enhance American safety and security, and connect communities in ways that strengthen our democracy.’ I am pleased that USDA, with funds provided through the Recovery Act, is leading this effort in rural parts of our country.”

Today’s announcement provides a $10.95 million loan and a $10.95 million grant to the Reservation Telephone Cooperative to provide service in the remote and rural areas in and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The project will bring broadband service to homes, businesses, schools and libraries. In addition, service will be provided to tribal government facilities which provide tribal child support, education assistance, employment assistance, health care and public safety services on the reservation. The area has experienced poverty rates as high as 28 percent and a 40 percent unemployment rate.

To date, $1.067 billion has been invested by USDA through the Recovery Act for 68 broadband projects. Together, the projects will make high speed Internet available to an estimated 529,000 households and 96,000 rural business and public facilities across 31 states, one territory and 17 tribal lands and predominantly Alaska Native regions. Many of the areas to be served are extremely remote, sparsely populated and in some cases not connected by roads. Secretary Vilsack and other cabinet officials visited some of the communities that will receive broadband Internet access during a “Rural Tour” last year. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs, and help to bridge the digital divide necessary to addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Rural Broadband Projects to Bring Economic Opportunity to Communities in Eight States

March 24, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of broadband infrastructure projects to give rural residents in 8 states access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Funding for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

            “The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, educational opportunities and jobs,” Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, public buildings and community centers to provide services to thousands of Americans.  These projects will create jobs building these networks, and the completed systems will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come.”

In all, $150 million will be invested in 12 projects through funding made available by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  An additional $68.2 million in private investment will be provided in matching funds, bringing the total funds invested to $218.2 million. To date, $1.05 billion has been provided to construct 67 broadband projects in 30 states and one territory.

For example, in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Utility Authority (TOUA) has been selected to receive a $3.6 million loan and a $3.6 million grant to design, engineer and construct a digital network to replace dial-up service.  This project will provide services throughout the Tohono O’odham Reservation using Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and fixed wireless broadband. 

Also, in the rural towns of Madison and Lamont, Kan., Madison Telephone, LLC (MTC) was selected to receive a $3.5 million loan and a $3.5 million grant to design, engineer and construct an FTTP network. This project will improve the existing copper-based network that currently limits average customer service speeds. MTC will upgrade this network to FTTP facilities and technologies, thereby eliminating this last mile limitation.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. A complete list of recent Recovery Act broadband award recipients by state is below:

Alaska

  • Copper Valley Wireless, Inc.: The Cordova, Alaska, Microwave Project; $1,747,796 loan and $1,747,795 grant. The funding will extend middle-mile connectivity from Naked Island to Cordova.

 

Arizona

  • Tohono O’odham Utility Authority: The Fiber Route – Middle Mile Project; $3,565,900 loan and $3,565,900 grant. The funding will enable high-speed DSL services throughout the reservation with Fiber-to-the-Premises and fixed wireless broadband in certain areas. 

 

Illinois

  • Norlight Telecommunications, Inc.: The Rural High-Speed Ethernet Network – Southern Illinois Project; $14,230,375 loan, $8,538,224 grant and  $5,692,151 of private investment. The funding will provide more than 1,600 miles of middle-mile fiber-optic network throughout 24 southern counties to deliver high-speed Ethernet connectivity.

 

Kansas

  • South Central Telephone Association, Inc.: The Lake City & Sun City Rural Fiber-to-the-House (FTTH) Project; $871,200 grant, and $3,550,800 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTH broadband service to all unserved establishments in the telephone exchanges of Lake and Sun City.

 

  • Madison Telephone, LLC: The Madison-Lamont Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $3,519,750 loan, $3,519,750 grant and $763,634 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP last-mile broadband service to exchange areas, including the Kansas telephone exchanges of Madison and Lamont.

 

  • J.B.N. Telephone Company, Inc.: The West Cluster Plus Barnes Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $5,489,250 loan, $5,489,250 grant, and $3,697,619 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP broadband service throughout seven western exchanges (West Cluster) and the Barnes exchange (Barnes).

 

Minnesota

  • Northeast Service Cooperative: The Northeast Minnesota Middle Mile Project; $21,749,110 loan and $21,749,110 grant. The funding will provide middle-mile, dark fiber, wavelength services to private-sector providers in rural areas of northeast Minnesota.
  • ·
  • Minnesota Valley Television Improvement Corporation: The Minnesota Wireless Expansion Project; $562,776 loan and $562,776 grant, and $281,388 of private investment. The funding will provide a two-way broadband internet network to unserved and underserved areas of west central and south central Minnesota, providing 34 additional wireless (WiMAX) access points.

 

North Dakota

  • Dakota Central Telecom 1 (DCT1): The Dakota Central Telecom l Project; $2,252,250 grant, and $2,499,597 of private investment. The funding will provide Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband services to households, businesses and key community organizations in portions of the Streeter and Gackle exchanges that are currently unserved.

 

Oklahoma

  • Pioneer Long Distance, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Wireless (WOW) Project; $1,819,349 loan and $1,783,322 grant. The funding will provide wireless broadband service to unserved and underserved rural areas in western Oklahoma.

 

  • Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $3,366,188 loan, $10,098,562 grant, and $23,297,597 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to rural areas within the western Oklahoma panhandle area.

 

Texas

  • Wes-Tex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $16,891,875 loan, $16,891,875 grant and $28,417,425 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to increase Internet availability and access speeds in rural areas of western Texas.

 

            President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009.  It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century.  The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

            More information about USDA’s Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery . More information about the Federal government’s efforts on the Recovery Act is available at www.recovery.gov .

Stimulus Award Momentum Growing Quickly, Latest Take is $160 Million

March 5, 2010

3/4/10 at 9:55 AM by Joan Engebretson

The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) has announced 23 more funding recipients under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total value of the awards announced March 2 is more than $160 million.

Fifteen of the awards went for broadband infrastructure, while six were for public computing centers and two were for sustainable broadband adoption. All awards were grants with applicant-provided matching funds.

The largest recipient in this announcement was Level 3 Communications, which won individual broadband infrastructure grants in six states with a total value of $14 million. The grant to Level 3 will support the construction of network access points to its existing broadband network in California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Tennessee and Texas.

The smallest award was a public computer center grant for $176,000 to the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority to expand the capacity of one public computer center and create an additional center at two public housing sites.

Other states where project funding was announced include Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Iniciative Tecnolegica Centro Oriental in Puerto Rico also won a grant.

In a press release announcing the awards, NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling said “the strongest proposals are the ones that have taken a truly comprehensive view of the communities to be served and have engaged as many key members of the communities as possible in developing the projects.”

For a detailed summary of these latest awards go to:  http://www.telecompetitor.com/stimulus-award-momentum-growing-quickly-latest-take-is-160-million/

NTIA and RUS Grant Limited Extension to File Infrastructure Applications for Second Round

March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NTIA and RUS will grant a limited extension of time to file infrastructure applications in the second funding round. Specifically, applicants for BTOP Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects will have until March 26th to file their applications to NTIA. Applicants for BIP infrastructure projects will have until March 29th to file their applications to RUS. Applications in NTIA’s two other project categories – Public Computer Centers and Sustainable Broadband Adoption – remain due on March 15th.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES RURAL BROADBAND PROJECTS TO BRING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY TO COMMUNITIES IN NINE STATES

February 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, February 17, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of eleven Broadband Infrastructure projects to enable rural residents in nine states to have access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Funding for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Obama a year ago today. Additionally, USDA and The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced that a second filing window for broadband applications opened this week.

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. Below is a complete list of recent Recovery Act Broadband award recipients by state:

Indiana

  • Smithville Telephone Company, Inc.: $37,729,143 loan. The funding will provide 3,815 households, 209 businesses, and 12 community anchor institutions with access to broadband service.

Iowa

  • Southeast Iowa Rural Wireless Broadband: $3,836,926 loan. The funding will provide Internet services to 80 rural communities using proven wireless technology.

Kentucky

  • Mountain Rural Telephone Cooperative Corporation (MRTCC) ILEC Broadband: $39,843,535 loan and $38,281,044 grant. The funding will provide fiber to Morgan, Menifee, Wolfe, and Elliott counties that will result in 20 Mbps bandwidth to end users.

Louisiana

  • Allen’s Cable – Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Broadband Network Extension: $3,584,680 loan and $3,513,697 grant. The funding will extend fiber into rural areas of three South Louisiana Parishes.
  • LBH, LLC, – Rural Broadband Powered by Fiber: $16,693,439 loan and $16,691,939 grant. The funding will expand existing broadband into rural areas around Moss Bluff, Oakdale, and Vinton.

Minnesota

  • Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG): $6,350,000 loan and $6,350,250 grant. The funding will provide service to eight rural communities throughout Southwest Minnesota.

Missouri

  • Unionville, Missouri FTTP Project: $5,140,458 loan and $5,140,458 grant. The funding will provide broadband services to households, businesses, and key community organizations that are currently underserved in the Unionville area.

New Mexico

  • Western New Mexico Telephone Company, Broadband Infrastructure Project: $11,516,679 grant. The funding will provide last mile broadband services to remote and unserved locations and critical community facilities throughout Western New Mexico.
  • Baca Valley Telephone Company, Inc.: $1,651,000 loan and $1,586,000 grant. The funding will expand fiber optics to Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) nodes in rural Northeastern New Mexico, replacing outdated deteriorating copper wire and low bandwidth microwave transport systems in some areas, while providing new connectivity in others, and enabling advanced, high-speed DSL service throughout the area.

Oregon

  • Sandy Broadband Infrastructure Project: $374,548 loan and $374,537 grant. The funding will provide broadband service to the underserved rural area of Sandy by improving and expanding wireless Internet service.

Texas

  • Southern Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development and Adoption Project: $40,093,153 loan and $38,520,868 grant. The funding will develop a broadband infrastructure in eleven unserved and underserved rural communities of the South Texas Plains.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/%21ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/02/0068.xml

It’s D-Day for Broadband Stimulus Round Two

February 16, 2010

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.

RUS Awards $310 Million in Broadband Stimulus Funds, 8% of Program Now Committed

January 26, 2010

by Bernie Arnason

ARRA LogoBroadband stimulus activity is starting to build some momentum. On the heels of last week’s NTIA announcement of broadband stimulus funding, the RUS announced fourteen applicants will receive $310 million in funding. Broadband projects in eleven states will receive funding.

The funding is dominated by last mile projects and heavily emphasizes FTTH technology. “The awards for these broadband projects will support anchor institutions – such as libraries, public buildings and community centers – that are necessary for the viability of rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

By our count, approximately $564 million in funding has been awarded by both the BTOP ($200 million) and BIP ($364 million) programs to date. This announced funding represents only about 8% of the total $7.2 billion program. Given all the funds need to be committed by September 2010, roughly 8 months from now, look for a flurry of activity in the coming weeks and months.

For more details go to:  http://www.telecompetitor.com/rus-awards-310-million-in-broadband-stimulus-funds-8-of-program-now-committed/

Broadband Stimulus Rules Change for 2nd Round as NTIA, RUS Split Up

January 19, 2010

  by Ed Gubbins    January 15th, 2010

The NTIA and RUS are issuing separate rules for the second round of broadband stimulus funding, worth $4.8 billion.

The NTIA is allocating $2.6 billion in funding during the next round, of which $2.35 billion will go to infrastructure projects, with a focus on what the NTIA calls “comprehensive community” proposals: “middle-mile broadband projects that connect key community anchor institutions – such as libraries, hospitals, community colleges, universities, and public safety institutions,” the NTIA said.

RUS, meanwhile, will distribute $2.2 billion, with a focus on last-mile projects. It will also add “support” for satellite-based proposals, but only in areas that are left unserved after other funds are awarded.

The separation of the two entities’ efforts is good in the sense that it may simplify and streamline the application and distribution process for the second round, industry consultant Craig Settles told Connected Planet. The two groups could then more closely follow the methods they’ve used historically rather than trying to reach agreement on common practices.

But it could pose dilemmas for stimulus hopefuls that have already applied. Those who haven’t heard a response yet from their first-round proposal will wonder if they should stick with that bet or apply anew in the second round with whichever of the two agencies they consider more likely to approve their request.

As with the first round, time is of the essence. All applications are due March 15. Winners will be announced by the end of September. And this is the last round of broadband stimulus funding.

For a condensed but still detailed summary of the new rules changes go to:

http://blog.connectedplanetonline.com/unfiltered/2010/01/15/broadband-stimulus-rules-change-for-2nd-round-as-ntia-rus-split-up/

Broadband Stimulus Rush Begins with $182 Million Dispensed Today in Dawsonville, Ga.; Less Than 3 Percent of Total Funds

December 18, 2009

December 17th, 2009

By Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com; and Winter Casey, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009 – The White House announced that $182 million in federal funding for broadband stimulus funding will be dispensed Thursday by Vice President Joe Biden at Impulse Manufacturing in the rural town of Dawsonville, Ga.

The initial grants are the first of a $2 billion disbursement in broadband funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over the next 75 days, the White House said.

The funding, said the White House, is “to bring broadband to communities that currently have little or no access to the technology.”

The projects to be unveiled on Thursday includes 18 program that benefit 17 states.

The $182 million in funding on these 18 projects announced Thursday will be matched by $46 million in private investment.

Of Thursday’s total, $129 million comes from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and $54 million comes from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.

See our related story on BroadbandBreakfast.com, that summarizes information known about the projects announced on Thursday.

The award include middle-mile projects in Georgia, Ohio, New York and North Carolina, a public computing center award in Arizona, a wireless project in remote Alaska, and two last-mile projects, in Maine and New Hampshire.

The White House is being extremely cautious in its unveiling of broadband stimulus funding. The $182 million in projects to be announced Thursday accounts 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.

If the grants to announced by the end of February 2010 are the sum total of first round funding awards, that would leave nearly three-quarters of the remaining broadband funds to be announced in the second, or final, round of funding.

Put another way, Thursday’s announcements constitute merely 2.5 percent of all federal funds allocated for core broadband investments under the fiscal stimulus legislation, passed in February 2009.

In a Wednesday briefing embargod until Thursday, NTIA Chief Lawrence Strickling said that the government is not announcing more funding awards because they are carefully selecting the projects.

The first awards were initially planned to be announced in November – and completed by the end of December. The announcement was delayed. The Administration now plans to release grant recipient names on a rolling basis starting Thursday.

In a report issued by the National Economic Council said that “broadband investments will create tens of thousands of jobs and stimulate the economy in the near term.”

The NEC Broadband Report, entitled “Recovery Act Investments in Broadband: Leveraging Federal Dollars to Create Jobs and Connect America,” continues: “By providing broadband-enabled opportunities to previously underserved communities, these investments will also lay the foundation for long-term regional economic development.”

The report summarizes three major categories of broadband investment: middle-mile, community anchor institutions and last-mile connections “to rural America.”

The report downplays one key segment of broadband expenditures – “sustainable broadband” – targeted by the Recovery Act.

In the report, “middle mile” investments are seen as critical. “Investments in the ‘middle mile’ extend the reach of the Internet into communities that would otherwise lack adequate access to broadband and its many opportunities. Moreover, Recovery Act middle-mile projects are specifically designed to improve connections to community institutions such as schools, hospitals, and libraries in order to enhance the quality of their critical services and reach large numbers of people.”

“By focusing on these institutions,” the report continues, “federal investment will connect more workers to broadband at their jobs, empower more children with digital skills through schools and libraries, and lead to increased broadband adoption in homes and businesses.”

The report also analogies current federal investments in broadband infrastructure to the government’s traditional investments in the Internet’s backbone.

The report quotes President Obama as saying, on September 21, 2009, that “one key to strengthening education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in communities… is to harness the full power of the Internet, and that means faster and more widely available broadband.”