Ready, Set for Broadband Race Round 2
[imgbelt img= foot-race320.jpg]The rules have been simplified for the second round of federal broadband applications, but there are now two sets of rules to consider. Are you still in the running?
[imgcontainer left] [img:foot-race320.jpg] [source]Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe rules have been simplified and the competition will likely be stiffer for this round of federal broadband funding.
The new rules are out for the second round of broadband stimulus funding – and with them comes good news and bad news for applicants.
The good news is the rules have been streamlined, so it’s likely more communities and companies will apply. The bad news? More people will be chasing a slightly smaller pot of gold.
More good news is that The National Communications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS) got a divorce, and now each can award grants in a way that makes the best sense for the respective agencies; we can hope that in the long run, having these two routes to funding will make grant-making more sensible. The bad news? There are two sets of rules, one set for each agency. In the short run, applicants have nearly 200 pages to sift through and a March 15th deadline for submiossions.
Yes, applicants really do need to read both sets to figure out which Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) to pursue. To minimize brain damage, the public policy institute New America Foundation has written a good comprehensive summary of NOFA 2 that’s less than 30 pages long. Grab a drink, prop up your feet, put on some smooth jazz, country or hard rock, and dig in.
NTIA hopes to get a bigger bang for its buck by focussing primarily on middle-mile projects (The term “middle mile” describes technology infrastructure that, for example, connects data centers to each other but that doesn’t primarily deliver broadband service to end-users. For more on NOFA definition, click here.)
[imgcontainer left] [img:middlemileproject320.jpg] [source]California PUCMiddle-mile project before the California Public Utilities Commission: to extend fiber from Shasta County to Modoc County, California.