Tuesday, March 30, 2010

USDA Concludes Broadband Stimulus Round I with $22 Million Native American Award

USDA Press Release via 03/30/2010 Washington - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of the Reservation Telephone Cooperative infrastructure broadband project to give rural residents of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and the surrounding area access to improved economic and educational opportunities. The service area includes parts of Montana and North Dakota.

Chairman Marcus Levings, of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the
Fort Berthold Reservation, ND, speaks to President Obama during
the Native American Summit of 11/05/2009 held at Dept. of the
Interior (Photo: Doug Mills, New York Times)
Today’s announcement concludes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first round of broadband funding announcements through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). Applications filed under the second and final round are under review and will be announced before the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

“The Recovery Act broadband projects announced by USDA will open up educational, job and business opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Americans living in rural areas,” said Vilsack. “As President Obama said earlier this month, ‘America today is on the verge of a broadband-driven Internet era that will unleash innovation, create new jobs and industries, provide consumers with new powerful sources of information, enhance American safety and security, and connect communities in ways that strengthen our democracy.’ I am pleased that USDA, with funds provided through the Recovery Act, is leading this effort in rural parts of our country.”

Today’s announcement provides a $10.95 million loan and a $10.95 million grant to the Reservation Telephone Cooperative to provide service in the remote and rural areas in and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The project will bring broadband service to homes, businesses, schools and libraries. In addition, service will be provided to tribal government facilities which provide tribal child support, education assistance, employment assistance, health care and public safety services on the reservation. The area has experienced poverty rates as high as 28 percent and a 40 percent unemployment rate.

To date, $1.067 billion has been invested by USDA through the Recovery Act for 68 broadband projects. Together, the projects will make high speed Internet available to an estimated 529,000 households and 96,000 rural business and public facilities across 31 states, one territory and 17 tribal lands and predominantly Alaska Native regions. Many of the areas to be served are extremely remote, sparsely populated and in some cases not connected by roads. Secretary Vilsack and other cabinet officials visited some of the communities that will receive broadband Internet access during a “Rural Tour” last year. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs, and help to bridge the digital divide necessary to addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. 
The Broadband Stimulus PipelineSM – Award # 139

View The Broadband Stimulus Pipeline: Award Locations in a larger map

KeyOn Communications Doubles Down on Federal Broadband Stimulus 03/30/2010 San Francisco - KeyOn Communications Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: KEYO), the rural broadband fixed wireless service provider that for a time achieved a sky high pop in its 2009 stock value, partially as a result of the aggressive highlighting of its broadband stimulus applications in the first round of the federal program, this morning announced that it applied for $360 million in funding in the second and final round of the program.

The $360 million application figure is a 237% increase in the total dollar value of funds applied for by the wireless operator, over the figure of $151.816 million applied for in Round I of the federal initiative.

According to the company's press release issued today, at 8:30 AM (ET),  the firm applied for funding to the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  KeyOn similarly applied only to RUS for funds in Round I, as it targeted rural markets in 11 states.

KeyOn's Jonathan Snyder, President and CEO of the firm stated in today's release, “Over the past few months, KeyOn’s management team has continued to focus on ARRA, as it represents a significant growth opportunity for our company.”  The company statement went on to say that if "successful in its applications, KeyOn plans to contribute up to approximately $163 million of outside capital to some of the smallest communities in the United States to ensure the sustainability of its projects."
In its press statement, the company did not disclose which specific markets it had submitted its applications for by yesterday's RUS application deadline of 10:00 PM (ET).  KEYO's statement did however say that if it won all of the funding applied for, its "WiMAX networks could potentially expand to cover as many as 22 states and provide wireless broadband access to as many as 8.2 million people."

As we reported on March 4, the firm was not awarded any of the Round I funds it applied for in 11 states.

According to an article by Ben Steverman in the November 3, 2009 issue of BusinessWeek, the significant appreciation in share value achieved by the firm last year was in large measure attributable to the aggressive marketing tactics of the company, as especially seen in its trumpeting of its broadband stimulus applications in funding Round I of the program.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hell Freezes Over: Windstream Applies for $238 Million in Federal Broadband Stimulus Funds 03/29/2010 San Francisco - Windstream (NASDAQ: WIN) the large consolidated rural local exchange carrier (RLEC), the corporate leadership of which has been frequent and pointed in its criticism of the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program, today announced that it has applied for $238 million in broadband stimulus funds.

In a press release issued earlier today from its headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, the company said that it is applying to "expand its fiber network by more than 7,000 miles and install additional equipment in its facilities to expand and enhance broadband service to about 500,000 homes and 80,000 businesses within 320 exchanges under the project."

As similarly announced last week by regional incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) Qwest (NYSE: Q), Windstream applied solely for federal broadband stimulus funds from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Both carriers thus bypassed the application process of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Today at 10:00 PM (ET) is the filing deadline for the second and final round of the RUS effort, called the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). 

In an interview last September with Ed Gubbins of Connected Planet, Windstream's CEO Jeff Gardner displayed his open angst with the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program, talking in derisive terms about the program, about some of the firms that applied in the initiative's Round I, if not about the President himself.

"Obama originally said he wanted to make sure people were accountable for that money," stated Gardner in the printed interview. "That’s why we’ve been talking to senators, saying, ‘Have some oversight. Don’t just give money to some company that has six times leverage that’s just going to piss it away,’” he concluded, according to veteran telecom sector journalist Gubbins.CrunchBase Information

USDA - RUS Extends Broadband Stimulus Filing Deadline, by 5 Hours 03/29/2010 San Francisco - The Rural utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced today that the agency will be extending by five (5) hours the application filing deadline of today for its portion of Round II of the federal broadband stimulus program.

The agency recently posted the following announcement on the joint agency federal site

"Monday, March 29, 2010
IMPORTANT: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is granting a deadline extension to file infrastructure applications during the second funding round. Applicants for BIP Infrastructure projects will have until 10:00PM EDT today, Monday, March 29, 2010, to submit their applications to RUS."

Anecdotal reports received by us indicate that applicants filing today, via the Easygrants electronic platform, are finding the application process slow, but that the platform has not collapsed, as it did repeatedly in August of 2009.  At the time, the filing deadline for Round I of the program was extended several times as a result of the severe technical dysfunction of the system.

Broadband Stimulus Player Infinera Announces Data Center Interoperability Certification 03/29/2010 San Francisco - Optical network gear maker Infinera Corporation (NASDAQ: INFN) today announced that its ATN metro edge platform has been certified by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: BRCD) for 1G and 2G Fibre Channel, as per the testing regime of Brocade's branded Data Center Ready Program.

Today's announcement follows that of a week ago, also headlined by Infinera, of a multi-vendor networking interoperability statement in the the 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) market space.

Brocade's data center certification program is an effort to spur interoperability in multi-vendor Brocade-based data center environments.  The testing that certified the Infinera ATN metro edge platform was conducted at the Brocade Data Center Ready labs, where extensive performance testing is conducted on storage area network (SAN) products in multi-vendor and large fabric environments. The program was launched by Brocade, headquartered in San Jose, CA, in 2000.

”Achieving certification as part of the Brocade Data Center Ready program opens new applications for deployment of the ATN platform and integrated ATN-DTN networks,”  said Paul Morkel, senior director of product marketing for Infinera. “The SAN market is growing as enterprises and carriers implement storage applications worldwide.”

Infinera's ATN is a metro-optimized CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) and DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) platform designed for cost-effective add/drop and multi-service aggregation in fiber otpic rings comprising metro networks. The ATN extends Infinera's digital optical networking benefits into the metro environment by providing a small form-factor, cost-efficient wavelength-granular add/drop system that interoperates with Infinera's DTN product. The integration of ATN and DTN delivers both bandwidth efficiency and simplified end-to-end management of services across the network.

“Infinera’s successful completion of the Data Center Ready Program certifies its ATN metro edge platform’s interoperability with Brocade switches and directors in multi-vendor SAN environments," said Patric Chang, director of Strategic Alliances at Brocade. "As storage area networks are being deployed worldwide at a rapid rate, customers now have the added assurance that these technologies working in tandem form a scalable, high-performance networking foundation for storage environments.

Infinera's Corporate Broadband Stimulus Support
Infinera has used the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program to increase its visibility in the optical networking market, as it manages its broadband stimulus corporate support program for network operators applying for federal capital subsidies.

The firm points to the federal grant received in February by its customer Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, as proof of the applicability of its product line to middle mile network projects proposed for rural service territories.  On February 11, Infinera hosted a broadband stimulus event for current and potnetial customers at its headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.  Along with the firm's  corporate and marketing personnel, the event focused on the hopes of California state government officials to see the federal program help jump start the beleaguered economy of the Golden State.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Google Gets Over 600 Fiber Community Requests as Deadline Nears 03/26/2010 San Francisco - As today's deadline nears for cities and towns around the nation to file for high capacity fiber networks from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), the company has reported within the last 3 hours that it has already received filed requests from 600 communities.

Additionally, Google is stating it has logged in over 190,000 statements of support and testimonials in favor of the 600 plus fiber network grant requests.  

In a posting on the Official Google Blog at 10:00 AM (PT) today by James Kelly, the company disclosed for the first time numbers for how extensive the national response to its Request for Information (RFI), issued February 10, has been.    

"We're thrilled to see this kind of excitement, and we want to humbly thank each and every community and individual for taking the time to participate," states Kelly in his post entitled Next steps for our experimental fiber network. "This enthusiasm is much bigger than Google and our experimental network. If one message has come through loud and clear, it's this: people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access."

We will update this story, as we receive follow-on information from the Googleplex, and from communities that have applied as part of the Google Broadband program.

NTIA Reports Help Desk Phones for Broadband Stimulus Filings Fixed 03/26/2010 San Francisco -  The temporary malfunction of the Help Desk telephone resource maintained by the federal agencies managing the broadband stimulus program has been resolved.

Ms. Rochelle Cohen, spokesperson for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), responded to our inquiry at 1:27 PM (ET) today, stating: "There was a brief interruption with the toll-free number that was resolved over an hour ago." 

Alert: Phones for Broadband Stimulus Help Desk Malfunction at Filing Deadline

Applicants on Deadline Urged to Email Agencies While Help Desk Inbound Lines Malfunction 03/26/2010 San Francisco - The 2 federal agencies administering the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program posted the following announcement at approximately 11:45 AM (ET) today:

“We are sorry but we are experiencing issues with our phone number at 877-508- 8364.  If you are currently needing Help Desk assistance, please email us at including your telephone number and we will email or call you back as soon as possible.”

The technical glitch particularly impacts applicants facing filing deadlines of either today or Monday, March 29.

Applications for filing Round II funding requests for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), managed by the NTIA arm of the U.S. Commerce Department, have a deadline of today at 10:00 PM (ET).

Applications for filing Round II funding requests for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), of the RUS division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have until 5:00 PM (ET) on Monday, March 29 to electronically submit their grant and loan requests.

We have requests for information into both agencies, and will update here as we receive reports. 

Sen. Klobuchar Announces $4.8 Million Broadband Stimuls Grant for Blandin Foundation 03/26/2010 San Francisco - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) yesterday announced the award of a $4.8 million federal broadband stimulus grant to the C.K. Bladin Foundation, headquartered in Grand Rapids, MN. The grant is in the sustainable broadband adoption category within the Broadband Technology Opportunities program (BTOP) of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The Foundation, the strongest voice over many years for improvement in rural broadband deployment throughout rural Minnesota, is the lead partner in a coalition of public and non-profit groups called the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC). The group will work to lift broadband adoption in 80 counties across the state.

“As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity – we must now do the same for broadband internet access,” said Klobuchar. “This project will ensure that rural communities throughout Minnesota have the training and tools necessary to utilize broadband technology.”

MIRC anticipates training as many as 2,500 individuals in computer literacy, online education, and workforce development, and plans to distribute 1,000 affordable refurbished computers to low-income, rural Minnesota residents. Funding will support the development of institutional broadband applications for schools and health care facilities to help increase broadband adoption.

Senator Klobuchar’s statement of yesterday quoted from the Executive Summary of the Blandin Foundation submitted with its broadband stimulus funding Round I application last August, stating MIRC additionally will:

Partner with the Association of Minnesota Counties and local mental health consortia to develop 10 regional Network of Care Web sites to provide information on local mental health resources.

Enable 30 Minnesota Workforce Centers to extend the operating hours of their computer centers by eight hours per week and provide additional digital literacy training.

Promote broadband best practices across economic sectors in 10 demonstration communities. These communities will receive intensive assistance, including funds for four local demonstration projects in each community to support expanding broadband access and adoption.

Enable e-commerce and broadband training to 2,000 rural small businesses. 
The Broadband Stimulus PipelineSM – Award # 133

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Navajo Nation Wins $32.2 Million in Largest Native American Federal Broadband Stimulus Award 03/25/2010 San Francisco - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the award of a $32.2 million grant to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) as part of the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program.

The award marks the largest single award to date, from the overall $7.2 in federal broadband stimulus appropriations, to a Native American governmental or operating entity. 

The Authority will match the $32.2 million in federal funds with $13.8 in locally provided monies to deploy "550 miles of new aerial fiber-optic cable and 59 new or modified microwave towers covering 15,000 square miles," according to a Commerce Department press release of today.

The new high capacity network facilities will be constructed in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.  The 3 states comprise the 27,000 square mile land area of the Navajo Nation (Dine Bikeyah), the largest single reservation in Indian Country.  The project was proposed to connect  49 Chapter Houses, which serve as community centers for the Navajo population, at speeds from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps.   Today's award was issued by the Broadband Technology Opportunities program (BTOP), part of the broadband stimulus initiative administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of Commerce.

Today's award marks the continuing efforts of the Obama Administration to bring a level of economic developmental resources to Native American communities previously not delivered by federal agencies.  Several estimates, including today's press release from Secretary Locke's office, state that the Navajo Nation as a whole has less than 40% of its households served by basic telephone networks and services.

Another Broadband Stimulus Win for Atlantic Tele-Network
Last-mile wireless services will be offered at speeds between 1 and 3 Mbps through the project’s wireless partner, Commnet Wireless.  Commnet is a division of the Salem, MA based Atlantic Tele-Network (NASDAQ: ATNI).

Today's award is the second announced broadband stimulus grant to benefit ATNI.  On the first day, December 17, 2009, of project award announcements the firm's subsidiary ION Hold LLC received a $39.724 million award. Also a grant issued by NTIA's BTOP program, the funding is for a large middle mile optical fiber network in upstate New York, with spurs into Pennsylvania and Vermont. 
The Broadband Stimulus PipelineSM – Award # 129

Qwest Releases Video on its Broadband Stimulus Applications 03/25/2010 San Francisco - Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) announced earlier today that it has filed one or more applications, for a total of $350 million in broadband stimulus grants to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Today's announcement by Qwest marks its departure from the ranks of the 2 other large Bell Operating Companies, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), which have both stated multiple objections to the federal broadband stimulus program of the Obama Administration.  The application submittal deadline for the portion of the program to which Qwest applied is Monday, March 29.

To date, Qwest, headquartered in Denver, has not specified what proposed service areas it is targeting within its 14 state service territory for the grant applications to the Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) managed by RUS. is working to confirm this, the "devil is the details," aspect of this important story.

Following its release of a one page press statement this morning, the carrier recently posted a series of short videos on its media relations site.  Each video of the group of 5 presentations features a Qwest government affairs executive giving summary information about the package of applications.
We have posted the first of such presentations, that of Steve Davis, Senior VP of Qwest Public Policy and Government Relations:

In a job title practice going back to before Divestiture, the breakup of the Bell System in 1984, the lead government affairs and public policy manager in each state is designated that state's president by the operating company.  That practice is seen as 4 of the 5 videos are produced with the respective state presidents of Arizona, Colorado, Iowa-South Dakota, and North Dakota. 

House Opens Congressional Oversight of National Broadband Plan 03/25/2010 San Francisco - Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-09) has opened the first oversight hearing conducted by Congress of the Obama Administration's National Broadband Plan (NBP) sent to Capitol Hill last week by the Federal Communciations Commission (FCC).Boucher is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

Live online video from the hearing is now streaming here: Subcommitte Webcast Live.

A 7 page briefing on the issues being reviewed by the Subcommittee was prepared by the Democratic Majority Staff, and submitted to Members on March 22.  The briefing memo is here:

House Subcommittee on Communications Briefing.memo on National Broadband Plan.cti.2010.03.22

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sen. Scott Brown Posts Official Email Address After 7 Weeks In Office 03/24/2010 San Francisco - Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the junior United States Senator from Massachusetts elected in January on a wave of social media organized by conservative groups, this afternoon posted a publicly listed office email address for the first time, 7 weeks after his swearing in on February 4.

Senator Brown was elected on January 19, in a nationally significant upset victory over Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D-MA).

Until approximately 5:00 PM (ET) today, Senator Brown's governmental website, carried no public email address for inbound contact to his staff in either Washington or Boston. The address was published this afternoon on the Contacts page of the site.

A Publishing Powerhouse Asks Some Questions
The lack of an official governmental email address for communications to the Senate's newest member from his Bay State constituents had drawn at least passing reference in the last several days from the Democratic blog BlueMassGroup.

Most probably of greater impact on the Senator's staff were the online and direct inquires raised over the past week by, the non-partisan online organizing and legislative communication site owned by the CQ-Roll Call Group, a division of U.K.-based The Economist Group.  CQ-Roll Call is the merged entity of Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, two of the small group of leading daily online information providers focused exclusively on Capitol Hill.

Wonder why a British publishing firm with a moderate Tory voice in its editorial policy would have the temerity to ask questions of a darling of the American right? 

CQ-Roll Call has an incentive beyond civic interest to see that Sen. Brown and all of his colleagues routinely receive high volumes of email.  Capitol Advantage, the market leader in email platforms used by lobbyists and trade associations, is another division of The Economist subsidiary.  

To the extent that any Senator or Member of Congress fails to maintain a working email portal, the tools of political influence offered by firms like Capitol Advantage are at a distinct disadvantage over phone calls and snail mail.  The site shows scores of webform emails addressed to Senator Brown which were presumably bounced back at the company's mails servers, or held for future electronic delivery. was contacted over the past week by Roll Call on the Brown email issue, given our daily exposure to (and alleged expertise about) the mix of politics, government, and technology. The last we checked, The Economist Group has even more clout and investigative horsepower than we do, so we await Roll Call's reporting on the Brown electronic snafu.

In the interim, we give you a video clip that those of us who are proud to be from Boston, and prouder still to be of a certain political tradition associated with the Hub of the Universe, still find unfathomable:

Media Access Project Selects Tyrone Brown as New President 03/24/2010 San Francisco - The communications public interest law firm Media Access Project (MAP) announced today that Tyrone Brown, former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and an entrepreneurial attorney, will succeed Andrew Jay Schwartzman as President of MAP. 

Schwartzman, who has headed the organization for 3 decades, will continue as Senior Vice President and Policy Director.

Brown, who will take the reins at MAP on April 1, has had a diverse career in the media and telecom sectors.  He came to Washington as a law clerk for the late Chief Justice Earl Warren, and was later appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as FCC Commissioner (1977-1981).

Since leaving the government, he has interspersed communications law practice at major DC law firms, including Wiley Rein and Steptoe & Johnson, with business ventures. He participated in telecommunications and media start-ups, including the co-founding of District Cablevision, DC’s first cable television franchised operator. 

He also collaborated on the successful re-launch after bankruptcy of IRIDIUM, the global mobile satellite system, serving as IRIDIUM’s vice chairman. Early in his career, he was an in-house counsel at Post-Newsweek Stations, the broadcast station operations of the Washington Post Company. Recently, he taught ethics to journalism students at Duke University.

“I am honored and delighted at the opportunity to lead this dynamic organization. MAP has an extraordinary record of accomplishment at the FCC and in the Courts,” Brown said. “I have always admired the way Andy Schwartzman has directed MAP in legal representation of groups that advocate for an open, competitive, participatory communications environment.”
“I plan to concentrate on expanding MAP’s sources of funding and, substantively, on highlighting and combating structural barriers to objective news reporting and on supporting optimal and ubiquitous access to the Internet by all demographics. Both of these values are absolutely critical for our civil democracy,” concluded Commissioner Brown.

“Ty’s expertise and leadership will be enormously important additions,” Schwartzman said. “The transition in leadership will allow me to dedicate my full attention to the communications policy work that I love.”

“Ty’s leadership will greatly expand MAP’s influence and its ability to fight for public participation and access to all media, including important emerging technologies,” said Albert H. Kramer, Chairman of MAP’s Board of Directors and partner at Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

MAP is a non-profit, public interest law firm dedicated to promoting the public’s First Amendment right to access and participate in a diverse marketplace of ideas in media and communications. 

The organization has most recently been active in petitioning Congress and the FCC  against the proposed acquisition of NBC-Universal, a division of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) by cable multiple system operator Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA).  In its work on the FCC's National Broadband Plan, MAP joined with other public interest groups to ask that the Commission frame the Plan around 5 specific consumer protection and availability goals.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

USDA Awards $150 Million in Broadband Stimulus Funds for 8 States 03/23/2010 San Francisco - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this morning awarded $150 million for broadband infrastructure projects in rural regions of 8 states.

“The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, educational opportunities and jobs,” Vilsack said in a press release issued from Washington.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (AP Photo)
“The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, public buildings and community centers to provide services to thousands of Americans."

"These projects will create jobs building these networks, and the completed systems will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come,” concluded Secretary Vilsack, the former Democratic governor of Iowa.

The $150 million will fund 12 separate projects through appropriations made available by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. An additional $68.2 million in private investment will be provided in matching funds, bringing the total funds invested to $218.2 million. To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting though its Rural Utilities Service arm, has issued $1.05 billion to construct 67 broadband projects in 30 states and one territory.

The Secretary's statment pointed to the project announced today in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, where the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority (TOUA) has been selected to receive a $3.6 million loan and a $3.6 million grant to design, engineer and construct a digital network to replace dial-up service. This project will provide services throughout the Tohono O'odham Reservation using Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and fixed wireless broadband.

Also, in the rural towns of Madison and Lamont, Kan., Madison Telephone, LLC (MTC) was selected to receive a $3.5 million loan and a $3.5 million grant to design, engineer and construct an FTTP network. This project will improve the existing copper-based network that currently limits average customer service speeds. MTC will upgrade this network to FTTP facilities and technologies, thereby eliminating this last mile limitation.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. A complete list of recent Recovery Act broadband award recipients by state is below:

• Copper Valley Wireless, Inc.: The Cordova, Alaska, Microwave Project; $1,747,796 loan and $1,747,795 grant. The funding will extend middle-mile connectivity from Naked Island to Cordova.

• Tohono O’odham Utility Authority: The Fiber Route - Middle Mile Project; $3,565,900 loan and $3,565,900 grant. The funding will enable high-speed DSL services throughout the reservation with Fiber-to-the-Premises and fixed wireless broadband in certain areas.

• Norlight Telecommunications, Inc.: The Rural High-Speed Ethernet Network - Southern Illinois Project; $14,230,375 loan, $8,538,224 grant and $5,692,151 of private investment. The funding will provide more than 1,600 miles of middle-mile fiber-optic network throughout 24 southern counties to deliver high-speed Ethernet connectivity.

• South Central Telephone Association, Inc.: The Lake City & Sun City Rural Fiber-to-the-House (FTTH) Project; $871,200 grant, and $3,550,800 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTH broadband service to all unserved establishments in the telephone exchanges of Lake and Sun City.

• Madison Telephone, LLC: The Madison-Lamont Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $3,519,750 loan, $3,519,750 grant and $763,634 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP last-mile broadband service to exchange areas, including the Kansas telephone exchanges of Madison and Lamont.

• J.B.N. Telephone Company, Inc.: The West Cluster Plus Barnes Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $5,489,250 loan, $5,489,250 grant, and $3,697,619 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP broadband service throughout seven western exchanges (West Cluster) and the Barnes exchange (Barnes).


• Northeast Service Cooperative: The Northeast Minnesota Middle Mile Project; $21,749,110 loan and $21,749,110 grant. The funding will provide middle-mile, dark fiber, wavelength services to private-sector providers in rural areas of northeast Minnesota.

• Minnesota Valley Television Improvement Corporation: The Minnesota Wireless Expansion Project; $562,776 loan and $562,776 grant, and $281,388 of private investment. The funding will provide a two-way broadband internet network to unserved and underserved areas of west central and south central Minnesota, providing 34 additional wireless (WiMAX) access points.

North Dakota
• Dakota Central Telecom 1 (DCT1): The Dakota Central Telecom l Project; $2,252,250 grant, and $2,499,597 of private investment. The funding will provide Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband services to households, businesses and key community organizations in portions of the Streeter and Gackle exchanges that are currently unserved.

• Pioneer Long Distance, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Wireless (WOW) Project; $1,819,349 loan and $1,783,322 grant. The funding will provide wireless broadband service to unserved and underserved rural areas in western Oklahoma.

• Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $3,366,188 loan, $10,098,562 grant, and $23,297,597 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to rural areas within the western Oklahoma panhandle area.


• Wes-Tex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $16,891,875 loan, $16,891,875 grant and $28,417,425 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to increase Internet availability and access speeds in rural areas of western Texas.

Computers for Youth Awarded $7.6 Million in Broadband Stimulus for LA Schools 03/23/2010 San Francisco - The non-profit Computers For Youth (CFY) organization has received $7.615 million in federal broadband stimulus funds for a project to be managed with the Los Angles Unified School District (LASUD), and focused on school children in that city.
The award was announced by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Friday March 19 in a statement that did not specify the dollar amount of LA project award, nor that for the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT), which was announced simultaneously.

CFY was the direct applicant for the Los Angles project under the Sustainable Broadband Adoption category of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP of the Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The organization had applied for a total of $9.917 million in Round I of the federal program, receiving the $7.615 figure. 

Computers for Youth (CFY) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, which began operations in 1999 in New York City, now has programs in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco serving over 4,400 families with school age children.  The organization is a recognized leader in computer literacy program development in technology undeserved communities. 

The project, called the CFY/LAUSD Family Broadband Engagement Program, has been nurtured within the sprawling school district by Dr. Themistocles 'Themey' Sparangis, Chief Technology Director for the District's Educational Technology division.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"New Media" and Old Influence: Genachowski's First Broadband Plan Interview Hosted on YouTube 03/19/2010 San Francisco - Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), did his first interview after release of the National Broadband Plan on Tuesday, March 16, on YouTube. YouTube is, obviously, one of the primary online platforms owned by Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), which often has business before....wait for it...the Federal Communications Commission.

The Chairman's appearance on a Google channel just after release of one of the most important policy documents in modern American telecom history was an effective way for the Commission to reach its core constituency of broadband end users.

We get that.  We also think the FCC-YouTube gig was primarily a government relations coup by Richard Whitt, head of Google’s Washington policy shop.  Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to quickly gain an understanding of the way Washington works.

Google's Role in U.S. Telecom Policy: Setting a New Competitive Agenda
Are we being too harsh here?

Good policy which advances the public interest comes out of an adversarial process of contending interests.   In most cases we applaud Google's increasingly significant role in setting the tech / telecom policy agenda.

We're throwing a flag on the field on this one (badly mangling metaphors here), not because we don't like the guys with their thumbs on the public policy scale, but because we think the system works best when no one's thumb is on the scale.  If we're throwing a flag on the field, imagine how upset one who doesn't really like this FCC, this National Broadband Plan, or Google's policy's initiatives might be.  Imagine their payback when, inevitably, the other team is back in power.

The Obama Administration's focused attention on broadband infrastructure and on the nation's regions and populations underserved with broadband is long overdue.  For the 8 years previous to the swearing in of President Obama, most of the "public policy" of the FCC was dictated not by the public good, but by the most powerful and anti-competitive incumbents in the broadcasting and telecom sectors.

The answer of the Bush Administration to the continued slide in our global broadband rankings: 'Let the big telcos get to that when they want to.'  The answer of the analysts and think tanks financed by the big telcos was (and remains):  'Those rankings, especially of the OECD, are all flawed.  We don't pay attention to them, and neither should you.'

Over the past decade, Google has increasingly acted in the national telecom policy role formerly played by large end user groups, competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), and long distance carriers like AT&T (NYSE: T), acquired by SBC in 2005, and MCI acquired by Verizon (NYSE: VZ) also in 2005 prior to reconsolidation of the sector.  Google, because it is one of the largest single "users" of the Internet (Yes, we know that is an entire debate in itself.), correctly sees its business as being directly tied to abundant, accessible, and reasonably priced broadband services.    

In the 1980s through late 1990s, the CLECs and competitive (non-Bell) long distance providers advocated an agenda defined by network interconnection and network element unbundling.  Successfully enshrined as national policy in the Telecom Act of 1996, that agenda launched America’s leadership of the Internet-enabled global economy.   Even the most severe critics of that agenda, and of the boom-to-bust cycle of that era, dare not argue that the Bell Operating Companies (BOCs) themselves could have jump started such a transformational change in the U.S. economy.

The agenda being advocated by Google today is analogous to, yet clearly different from, that of the CLECs and end users in the era before the Act.  An agenda inclusive of ubiquitous high capacity broadband, open access networks, and net neutrality is no less important to our nation's global competitiveness than were the former goals of to that of the previous era. 

Google’s economic interest in broadband is shared by application developers, business end users, residential consumers, network equipment makers, smaller and more rural service providers, and underserved populations across the nation.  Chairman Genachowski is not wrong in saying the broadband agenda – one argued for by Google and by the public interest think tanks it supports – are indeed fundamental to U.S. prosperity. 

So, What’s the Problem?
After 3 decades in the world of policy and politics as they relate to the American telecom sector, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have a national administration that is putting real skin in the game of the important national broadband / competitive telecom agenda.

We just don't like being told, because this is all "New Media" and all the rulemakings are fully "transparent," that the use by the FCC of a communications outlet owned by a large company it oversees is without risk to good policy making. 

We don't like it when power and influence is too obviously in play.  "Good" government relations doesn't always equate to good government.  


NTIA Announces Broadband Stimulus Awards of $29 Million for California and New York

Total of 116 Broadband Stimulus Projects Now Funded 03/19/2010 San Francisco - Gary Locke, President Obama's Secretary of Commerce, announced late today, Washington time, two broadband stimulus grants totaling just above $29 million, in California and New York.

Update at 7:50 PM: (This story was posted today momentarily after we received it from NTIA. We have contacted the principals involved to confirm the recipient organizations and specific grant and matching fund monies involved. Details of the awards in today's release from Commerce were lacking.  NTIA tells us that no further awards will be made by  the agency "this week." We will publish a separate story as we work on details.

We can confirm that as of the public release of these 2 awards, the federal broadband stimulus program has now announced funding for 116 separate projects.)

The Commerce Department, in a press release issued today, states the awards will "help bridge the technological divide, improve education, and increase economic opportunities for low-income families in New York, New York and Los Angeles, California. The grants, totaling more than $29 million, will fund computer training and provide more than 30,000 computers to middle school students and their families in high-need schools, enabling them to make use of key educational, employment, and health resources online."

In New York, the NYC Connected Learning project plans to provide computer training, desktop computers, educational software, and free broadband access for one year to more than 18,000 low-income sixth graders and their families in 100 high-need public middle schools in New York City. The not-for-profit organization Computers for Youth will conduct computer training for parents and students in English, Spanish, and other languages to enhance digital literacy and increase the relevance of broadband to people’s everyday lives. As a result of this project, more than 12,000 households are expected to subscribe to broadband beyond the free year-long subscription period.
This is Award # 115 in The Broadband Stimulus Pipeline

In California, Computers for Youth will partner with the Los Angeles Unified School District to increase broadband technology awareness, help students succeed academically, and increase family involvement in their children’s education through computer and Internet tools. The project will provide 15,000 sixth-grade students and their families with computer training, after which they will receive a refurbished computer with educational software. Nearly 8,000 households are anticipated to become new broadband subscribers as a result of this project.
This is Award # 116 in The Broadband Stimulus Pipeline

“These critical investments will expand computer and Internet services to students and families in need to help them succeed in school and make them full participants in today’s 21st century information economy,” Locke said in today's release.

“Having access to the Internet’s economic, health and educational benefits should be as much of a fundamental American right as attending a quality school or feeling safe when you walk down the street," concluded the Secretary of Commerce.
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