Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Broadband Stimulus Bill details

More Broadband Stimulus Bill (and here at TMC) info from Stephen Ronan on the CyberTelecom listserv

Can anyone provide a pointer to the bill at issue?

text of bill

House Draft Report

the summary of the principal broadband provisions below:

1) $2.825 billion for loans, loan guarantees and grants to be administered by the USDA's Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning, Tele-medicine and Broadband Program. .... Those funds are for "open access broadband infrastructure in any area of the United States." However at least 75 percent of the area to be served by each funded project must be in "a rural area without sufficient access to high speed broadband service to facilitate rural economic development, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture." ... Priority is given to projects "that provide service to the most rural residents that do not have access to broadband service" and to project applications from (or including) borrowers or former borrowers under Title II of the Rural Electrification Act. .... 50% percent of the funds are to be awarded not later than 9/30/2009 .... "No area of a project funded" by these funds may also "receive funding to provide broadband service under the Broadband Deployment Grant Program" (see below).

In addition to that USDA program:

2) $2.825 billion for "Wireless and Broadband Deployment Grant Programs" to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (in the Dep't of Commerce), of which $1 billion shall be for Wireless Deployment Grants and $1.825 billion for Broadband Deployment Grants (though NTIA would be able to transfer up to 20% of the funds from either program to the other). The grants are intended for "the non-recurring costs associated with the deployment of broadband infrastructure in rural, suburban, and urban areas..." ... Of the $1 billion for Wireless Deployment grants, NTIA is instructed "to the extent possible" to provide 25 percent for wireless VOICE service and 75 percent for "advanced wireless broadband service" (3 megabit per second down by 1 megabit up) to under-served areas. ... And of the $1.825 billion for (presumably non-wireless) broadband, 25% are to be awarded for provision of "BASIC broadband service" (5 megabits per second downstream by 1 megabit upstream) to underserved areas and 75% for ADVANCED broadband service (45 megabits per second downstream by 15 megabits up). .... Services are to be provided on an "open access basis" (that's to be defined by the FCC within 45 days of enactment) and adhere to the FCC's 8/5/05 statement on net neutrality (05-151)

"Factors in grant award decisions by the NTIA will include public safety; state reports on priorities; increases in affordability and subscribership; service enhancement for health care delivery, education, or children; enhancement of computer ownership and computer literacy; and state or local matching funds."

States are required to provide up front to NTIA a report indicating which geographic areas of the State should be considered to have the greatest priority for service (can't represent in aggregate more than 20% of the population or geographic area).

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