International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

Federal Stimulus – The Time is NOW for Broadband. | March 5, 2009

Posted By: Nick Miller, Partner, Miller & Van Eaton 

The federal stimulus bill contains $7.2B for broadband projects to “unserved” and “underserved” populations.

You should push your IT and City management to apply for this money.  This race will go to the swift.  All local governments are defined as eligible entities for grants, either directly in combination with others in a joint application.

The money is split $4.7B in grants by the Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and $2.5 B in grants, loans and loan guarantees by Department of Agriculture, Rural Utility Service (RUS). 

The statutory mandates are different for the two agencies, with RUS money limited to projects that serve at least 75% “rural” areas, and NTIA grants intended to address “unserved” and “underserved” areas which don’t overlap with areas receiving RUS funds.

The NTIA money specifically is available to

1.      Provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, “support” to schools and libraries, healthcare providers or “other community support organizations”; or

2.      Facilitate greater use of broadband service by low-income. unemployed, aged, or “otherwise vulnerable populations; or

3.      Improve access to, and use of broadband service by public safety agencies; or

4.      Stimulate demand for broadband, economic growth and job creation

NTIA (not RUS) must award all of its money by September 30, 2010.  And the NTIA projects must be completed within 2 years of grant award.

NTIA and RUS both anticipate working with the States to identify priority of the competing proposals.

On March 10, at 10 AM EST; Obama Administration officials plan a public meeting to discuss details and plans for seeking grant and loan proposals from eligible entities.  The meeting will be streamed live over the internet.

More information is available at

http://www.pti.org/index.php/ptiee1/more/451/

If you download that presentation, you will see a full page of useful links for more information.

So get your folks going now, coordinate with your governor’s office, and be the first in line.


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This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.

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