Wednesday, July 15, 2009

App Rising: Ten ways broadband stimulus rules fail America

From App-Rising's perspective, the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) announced July 1 for the first round of $7.2 billion of grants and loan subsidies for U.S. broadband telecommunications infrastructure falls short of the goal of Obama administration and Congress in authorizing the funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some key excerpts:

In large part this stimulus is business as usual for America's broadband policy, or lack thereof. We're continuing to muck around, shuffling our feet when the rest of the world is racing forward. It's not just that this NOFA isn't aspirational enough, it's that it does seem to be aspiring to anything at all. There's no ultimate goal for what it's setting out to achieve other than getting some people some broadband. And there's seemingly little being done to even use this as a learning experience that we can build from and help guide future investments. It feels like NTIA and RUS just took the safest route, followed the same steps that have failed us in the past, and at best only marginally improved the approach. Because of this I can't help but feel pessimistic about what the ultimate impact of the broadband stimulus will be.

There are a host of truly shovel-ready, truly innovative, true testbed showcase projects for us to be supporting through this broadband stimulus. But based on how things are looking so far, I can't help but feel like this NOFA is already a massive failure and the money hasn't even gone out the door yet.

I agree the rules governing this first NOFA issued two weeks ago create too much opportunity for incumbent providers to delay proposed projects in order to maintain their territorial hegemony that is a hallmark of America's privately built and operated telecommunications infrastructure.

On the other hand, App-Rising sees this first NOFA as all encompassing broadband policy. It is not. The broadband provisions of the economic stimulus legislation call for the creation of an omnibus U.S. broadband policy by Febuary 2010. Plus the funding allocation was described by Obama administration officials as a "down payment" on a badly needed upgrade of the nation's telecommunications infrastructure. Finally, there's a good chance the rules of the first NOFA will be revised based on complaints such as these in the second and third rounds of funding later this year and early 2010.


arabianyte said...

I agree with the fundamental thoughts which you expressed regarding roots to failure of the broadband policy. I am concerned like you about the role incumbent providers will play with respect to possible delays in carrying out projects in the public interest. The rules are not clear to me as to who will actually receive the funds and how the public interest will best be served. Will this stimulus allow the incumbent carriers to maintain greater hegemony over the smaller operations; thereby creating even more situations to build on their already supperior positions in the market. I am glad that your blog is helping to keep an eye on this and raise awareness.

britney said...

Its about the fundamental thoughts..
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