Recovery Act Round 2: Ding! $4.8B in the Ring
The U.S. government released $4.8 billion in the second round of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants Friday, continuing the quest to bring better Internet access to rural and under-served communities. (See Round 2 Stimulus Funds Issued.)
This time around, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) plans to allocate approximately $2.6 billion in Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding, of which approximately $2.35 billion will be made available for infrastructure projects, including $150 million for public computer center projects and at least $100 million for "sustainable broadband adoption projects."
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) , meanwhile, has earmarked $2.2 billion in this funding round under its Broadband Infrastructure Projects (BIP) scheme. Most of the money will be focused on last-mile projects, but the agency says a later outlay of funds could partially go towards satellite service in rural areas that the stimulus plan misses.
Both agencies promise that the application and awards process will be easier this time around. This might be music to the ears of those who experienced ongoing hitches with the first round. (See Recovery Act: $182M Awarded for Broadband.)
The General Accounting Office said earlier this month that the NTIA was roughly three months behind in awarding the money for the first round. (See Do Delays Really Hurt Stimulus Funding?)
The agencies plan to accept applications for the second round of funding from Feb. 16, to March 15, with awards being announced by Sept. 30. There is still a third round of funding expected to start in 2010, as the agencies eventually plan to dole out $7.2 billion in total for broadband projects.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung