StimulatingBroadband.com 06/30/09 Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker at an event tomorrow, July 1, in the City of Erie, Pennsylvania focusing on the Obama Administration's commitment to the $7.2 billion "broadband stimulus" provisions of the Recovery Act.
StimulatingBroadband.com believes the Vice President will use the public event to announce the release of the federal agency regulations that will launch the first grant and loan round for the broadband stimulus program.
In federal parlance, the regulations will be released in a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).
StimulatingBroadband.com has not been able to confirm or deny, with any relevant agency or White House spokesperson, speculation of today within the telecom industry that the Vice President will announce the NOFA release. Joining the Vice President will be Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA).
Secretaries Locke and Vilsack head the federal departments which are mandated by Congress to disperse the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus monies prior to October 1, 2010. Mr. Mark Tolbert, Spokesman for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the division of the Commerce Department managing the $4.7 billion in broadband funds appropriated to Commerce stated in an e-mail to us of this afternoon that he "unfortunately could not confirm" that the NOFA release would occur tomorrow.
Spokesman Tolbert did tell us however to "keep an eye on our Website tommorrow."
The Office of Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell (D-PA) stated to us this afternoon that the Governor would be attending to the "...ongoing state budget crisis" while working from his office at the State Capitol in Harrisburg tomorrow, and would not be attending the Erie event.
The Office of Congresswoman Dahlkemper (PA-3) confirmed for StimulatingBroadband.com that the Congresswoman would be attending the event in her District with the Vice President. The Spokesman further stated that Rep. Dahlkemper, applauded the efforts of the Administration to bring broadband facilities to unserved areas of rural America. Congressman Dahlkemper's office referred all inquires concerning "the release of the federal regulations" to the Office of the Vice President.
"Broadband access is critical to rural business competitiveness," stated Dahlkemper's Spokesman, Mr. Zac Petkansas.
Anticipation about the release of the NOFA has been high. Launch of the grant and loan funding rounds is anxiously expected by management throughout the American telecom industry, by rural elected and economic development officials, by state broadband program administrators, and by local governmental officials seeking to subsidize broadband efforts.
"I think the rules will set the stage for a greater national broadband strategy," said industry analyst and governmental telecom consultant Craig Settles of Successful.com. "Will we finally get a meaningful broadband policy, or will all this funding simply go over to the incumbents?"
The White House Press Office yesterday, June 29, released a Media Advisory for the event. StimulatingBroadband.com