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The nation's Stimulus program includes up to $7.2 billion in spending to spur broadband deployment and use in the United States and will be administered by both the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture.

Broadband Stimulus Program
Objective: Provide and/or improve broadband service to students in unserved and underserved areas.
Amount Available: $4.7 Billion through the Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP); $2.5 Billion through the Department of Agriculture Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).
Who's Eligible: SEAs
How and When: There will be three rounds of grants.  The first  BTOP Grant applications will be received between July 14-August 14, 2009; all grants will be awarded by September 30, 2010.
These provisions will be distributed principally through competitive grants to make broadband a reality for those currently unable to bridge the digital divide.

The allocation breakdown is as follows:

  • $4.7 billion will be issued to eligible entities by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the Department of Commerce. NTIA has established the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which makes grants available for deploying broadband in unserved and underserved areas in the United States.
  • $2.5 billion is provided to the Rural Utility Service (RUS) under the Department of Agriculture, for the construction of broadband networks. RUS is establishing the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) which may extend loans, competitive grants and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas.

BTOP funding is divided into three project categories: Broadband Infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas, Public Computer Centers, and Sustainable Broadband Adoption. While the program is fundamentally designed to build out broadband services, under the NTIA funds, educational institutions are eligible for broadband grant funding. Among other benefits, these investments will support high-speed broadband adoption in underserved rural and inner-city school districts for the benefit of student/faculty computing and effective distance learning in higher education.

Broadband Infrastructure projects for areas that are at least 75% rural are required to be submitted to RUS for consideration under BIP. These applicants may also choose to submit their applications for BTOP funding. All other broadband infrastructure projects, as well as applications for Public Computer Centers or Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects, must be submitted to NTIA for consideration under BTOP.

Overall, at least $200 million will be made available for competitive grants to expand public computer center capacity. An additional $250 million will be available as competitive grants for innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services. And up to $350 million is available to fund the State Broadband Data and Development Grant program authorized by the Broadband Data Improvement Act.

NTIA funding will be awarded to projects that can be completed within two years, and will be distributed in three rounds: Spring 2009, Fall/Winter 2009, and Spring 2010. All RUS and NTIA funds will be distributed by September 2010.

On July 1, 2009 a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) announced up to $1.6 billion of funds for BTOP. Additional details can be found in the NOFA factsheet.

The provisions are intended not only to produce a near-term economic result, but also to close the "broadband gap" by putting broadband service in currently unserved and underserved areas in rural and inner-city America.


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