Friday, June 04, 2010

Incumbents mount new challenges of proposed ARRA telecom infrastructure projects

The Obama administration's policy to support build out of Internet Protocol telecommunications infrastructure with grants and low cost loans is once again running into stiff resistance from legacy incumbent telephone and cable companies.

As they did in a previous round for funding requests for $4.2 billion set aside for this purpose in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the incumbents are challenging numerous projects proposed for funding under the current funding round of USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). The challenges are permitted under provisions of the Act that allow incumbents to delay or block proposed projects in their service areas by claiming they already provide advanced telecom services. A searchable list of BIP applicants and incumbent challenges is posted here.

Unlike in the first round of ARRA funding last year, the RUS has not posted details of the challenges. Listed are only the service areas of the proposed projects and the name of the challenging incumbent provider. Incumbent challenges of ARRA telecom infrastructure projects administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) have not yet been posted by the NTIA.

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