Thursday, February 25, 2010

Federal Agency Denies Requests to Extend Broadband Stimulus Deadline

With 63% of Funds Not Awarded, Commerce Dept Says No to March 15 Deadline Extension 02/25/2010 San Francisco - The federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce which administers part of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program yesterday released a statement that it is denying requests to extend the program's Round II funding application deadline beyond the previously set date of March 15, 2010.

The statement is contained in a
54-page report issued yesterday by the agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report lists the current status of 77 applications, from within the group of 2,167 total applications submitted for grants and loans in funding Round I of the program.

Additionally, the report publishes 44 maps of awarded and pending projects proposed for funding by applicants within the Middle Mile Infrastructure category of funding Round I. The majority of the 44 maps issued in the report were drawn electronically within the
Broadband Mapping Tool deployed on a federal website by NTIA and its colleague agency administering the overall program, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report contains the statement:

"Please note that NTIA recently received requests to extend the March 15, 2010 Round 2 BTOP application filing deadline based on lack of full information on Round 1 awards. The information being made available provides adequate information for Round 2 applications about possible overlaps with Round 1 grants. Accordingly, NTIA denies the pending extension requests."

A variety of individual applicants, cities, state broadband programs, and public interests groups had petitioned both NTIA and RUS, over the past 40 days, to extend the March 15 filing deadline, given the paucity of information available about Round I applications and awards.

Most prominent among those groups requesting extension of the deadline is the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the professional organization of municipal telecom regulators and network administrators across the nation. As
we reported on February 17, NATOA issued a petition, in the form of a lettter sent to the administrators of NTIA and RUS dated February 12, to move the March 15 deadline to April 30.

As of
yesterday's grant award by NTIA to the ENMR Telephone Cooperative of Clovis, NM, NTIA and RUS together had issued 65 awards for $1.265 billion in grant and loan monies. This $1.265 figure means that the 2 agencies have awarded 37% of the $3.4 billion in funds allocated in funding Round I to the core broadband infrstructure, public computing center, and sustainable broadband categories of the program.

We reported in late January, quoting the attributable statements of authorized spokespeople at NTIA and RUS, that both agencies set February 28 as the deadline for release of all Round I awards. If the target award deadline of the last day of February is held to and the agencies award the remaining 63% of funds in the interim, they will need to issue just over $533 million per day for 4 days, inclusive of today.
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