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News Story What's Going On with Broadband Stimulus Funding

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http://www.daniweb.com – Announcements for the first round of broadband stimulus grants and loans have slipped a bit; while all the announcements were supposed to be made by March 1, they are now expected to be made by March 15, according to an article on the Stimulating Broadband website. In the first round alone, $28 billion in requests was made for $7.2 billion in funding. Awards started being announced in December. In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package, Congress appropriated $7.2 billion for broadband grants, loans, and loan guarantees to be administered by the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). There are two programs: RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BIP will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas, while BTOP will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and sustainable broadband adoption project. These awards were for the first round of funding, the deadline for which was August of this year. The first phase awards $4 billion, a little more than half of the total $7.2 billion. Additional mass awards were made on March 4 and March 2; individual awards have also been made several times and are summarized on the broadbandusa.gov page. In addition, deadlines for the second round have also changed. While the application period originally opened on February 15, with applications all due on March 15, applicants for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects have received an extension until March 26 to file their applications, while applicants for infrastructure projects will have until March 29 to file their applications to RUS. Applications for Public Computer Centers and Sustainable Broadband Adoption remain due on March 15. Because of the short time period between the end of the first round awards and the deadline for the second round -- for which applicants who didn't receive awards in the first round could still apply -- the federal government released a report in early March describing the awards and outstanding applications up to that point. (General)