Today at a public meeting members of the Commerce Department, Department of Agriculture, and Federal Communications Commission gave updates to the $7.2 billion broadband funding provisions of the ARRA. They reiterated the purpose of the broadband funding: to close the broadband gap in America, to stimulate investment, to create jobs, to ensure that schools, libraries, hospitals, and other “community anchor institutions” have the connectivity they need, and to encourage demand overall.
While there weren’t many solid answers offered at this point, the representatives underscored the importance of the funding and asked potential recipients to be both patient and vigilant as more details begin to emerge.
Some things that were learned:
- NTIA said its plan is to have four different grant programs: (1) Broadband mapping; (2) Public computer center capacity; (3) Innovative uses of broadband, and; (4) Large broadband deployment and expansion.
- NTIA funding will occur in 3 waves: the first between April and June of this year, the second from October to December of this year, and the final period from April to June of 2010.
- NTIA will host a series of public meetings to gather input from stakeholders. These meeting will take place on March 16, 19, 23, 24 in Washington, D.C., March 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and March 18 in Flagstaff, Arizona.
- In addition to the meetings, there will be a comment period where the respective agencies will collect information from stakeholders. This period will help the agencies draft the funding application guidelines and define important terms such as “underserved,” “unserved,” and others.
- The FCC will hold a public meeting on April 8 to kickoff the national broadband plan discussion
We’ll post more information as it comes along. Here’s a link to the official meeting notice and updated information from NTIA and RUS.