Saturday, November 14, 2009

Report: Flood of comments on broadband stimulus requests indicate "significant incumbent challenges"

Telecompetitor is reporting Mary Campanola, outreach coordinator for the Rural Utilities Service, told a panel at the Telco TV annual conference and expo Nov. 12 that the agency has received 11,000 comments for the 2,200 applications it received for funding through its Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). BIP provides grants and low cost loans as part of $7.2 billion set aside for broadband infrastructure subsidies in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Telecompetitor quotes Campanola as saying 80 percent of all applications received at least one comment, which according to the interactive blog reveal "significant incumbent challenges" of proposed deployments aimed at providing broadband to areas designated as unserved or underserved.

Since RUS must check out each incumbent challenge, the BIP stimulus dollars will flow slowly. Campanola reportedly said just 18 applications that were due three months ago made it past the initial review phase. Those projects selected for funding will be announced starting in December with award notifications made on a rolling basis well into 2010, Campanola was quoted as saying.

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