BROADBAND STIMULUS GRANTS
The funding will be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce (grants) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) in the Department of Agriculture (loans, loan guarantees, and grants).
The ARRA creates a new grant program to be administered by the NTIA, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). ARRA 6001 pages 398 – 402.
RUS will make grants, loans and loan guarantees for broadband infrastructure under existing programs. The title of the RUS program is “Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program.” ARRA Title I, Department of Agriculture, pages 4 - 5.
NTIA and RUS have jointly held public meetings to solicit input as to how the grant and loan programs will be administered. The two agencies are working with the FCC to develop guidelines for distributing the stimulus funds. The agencies are seeking public comment on how to define “broadband,” “unserved,” and “underserved.”
Congress has set a deadline of September 30, 2010 (the end of federal fiscal year 2010) for the agencies to award all of the Broadband Stimulus Grants. It is expected that there will be three grant cycles, beginning in April / May, 2009.
Level of Funding
Factors Considered By Agencies When Making Awards
Degree to which an infrastructure construction project is “shovel-ready”
Awards will not be made for projects that were already scheduled to have begun prior to the passage of the stimulus legislation.
Proposed Broadband Speed
The populations for the project are in an “unserved” or “underserved” area
Requirements that Apply to Both NTIA and RUS Grants/Loans
Fixed Price Contracts and Competitive Bidding
Preference for Quick-Start Activities
Job Creation and Economic Benefit
Grant proposals for any type of project (including non-construction work) should include “estimates of jobs sustained or created” by the project. Each agency is required to post the number of jobs created on the Stimulus Act website. ARRA, Section 1526 (c)(8), page 179.
Buy American Materials and Equipment
The "Buy American'' provision (section 1605 (a)) of the Recovery Act states that none of the funds appropriated by the Act "may be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a . . . public work, unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.''
The NTIA and RUS have each granted a limited "public interest" waiver of the "Buy American" provision requiring use of infrastructure components manufactured in the United States for broadband networks funded by the stimulus. The automatic waivers for both the NTIA and RUS include the following types of equipment: switching, routing, transport, access, and customer premise. The waivers also cover end user devices and billing/operations systems. Both waivers specifically exclude fiber optic cable, cell towers, and other facilities that are readily available in the United States.
There is one difference in the waivers: The RUS waiver includes coaxial cable; the NTIA waiver does not include this component.
Applicants that want to use materials or equipment that is not covered by an agency "public interest" waiver can petition for a special "case-by-case" waiver as part of the grant application. The NTIA has posted a finding of the "Problems Arising from Application of the 'Buy American' Requirements to Information and Communications Technology Industry." Applicants seeking a case-by-case waiver may want to consult this document for an analysis of the factors considered by the NTIA in granting the waiver.
The Economic Impact of Stimulating Broadband Nationally
Executive Summary: The Economic Impact of Stimulating Broadband Nationally (PDF)
Grant Registration Website
Final Version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Kick Off of Recovery Act’s Broadband Initiative
NTIA – RUS Joint Public Meetings Archives (Videos and Transcripts)
BTOP Public Comments Received
BTOP Submit Comments
Links to State Recovery Websites
Improving the Grant Management Process, Department of Justice
Stimulus Grants to Local Education Agencies by the Department of Education
Department of Education grant program to fund “new opportunities for schoolwide programs for secondary school students to use high-quality, online courseware as supplemental learning materials for meeting mathematics and science requirements.”