Monday, March 15, 2010

USDA Works to Award Remaining Round I Broadband Stimulus Funds This Week

USDA-RUS Has Issued $897 million in Broadband Stimulus Dollars 03/15/2010 San Francisco - The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to award this week the balance of its assigned monies under funding Round I of the federal broadband stimulus program.

As we reported on March 2, RUS had previously set today, March 15, as its deadline for award of all grants and loans which the agency planned to release in the first cycle of the program which launched on July 1, 2009. As of the posting of this story at 4:00 PM (ET), USDA had not announced awards subsequent to its release on March 4 of $255 million for 22 separate projects in 18 states.

Responding to our verbal question, RUS spokesperson Bart Kendrick told us on Friday, March 12, that the agency remained "on target" to issue its remaining Round I funds on or about today's March 15th "target date."

With the announcement of the $255 million in awards 11 days ago, RUS had issued a total of $897 million, starting with Vice President Joe Biden's first public declaration of Round I awards in Dawsonville, GA on December 17, 2009.

More difficult to fathom than the actual funding awards announced so far by RUS and its sister agency in the broadband stimulus program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is an accurate estimate of the total funds to be issued in the current funding Round I.

Initial Round I funding awards set in the federal rules issued on July 1, 2009 will not be met by the 2 agencies, as seen in the reallocation of funds -- from Round I to Round II -- evident in the regulations for the second funding round promulgated on January 15. During the period December 17 through March 5, the date of the most recent award made by NTIA for an $80 million middle mile optical fiber project in Louisiana, the 2 agencies have made 114 project awards.

The Broadband Stimulus PipelineSM reports prepared by and by the associates at our corporate parent, telecom sector advisory firm PrattNetworks LLC, provide detailed running estimates of Round I to Round II funding reallocations. Our reports will be updated this week, given the March 15 target date for RUS, and ongoing "due diligence phase" efforts at NTIA.
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