Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Broadband Grants Announced

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded the first four grants funded by the Recovery Act under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program. Broadband activities are funded in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was awarded $2.3 million to collect information on broadband service availability in the state and to create an interactive web-based map to give residents access to information about the services and providers available at their own address. State and federal policymakers will also be able to use the information to analyze the status of broadband deployment in the state and across the U.S., and to develop broadband policies aimed at making advanced services available everywhere regardless of location or income.

CPUC’s grant includes $500,000 for non-mapping activities related to broadband demand and adoption issues. CPUC is partnering with California State University’s Chico Research Foundation for this portion of the grant through a four year agreement. The Chico Research Foundation will identify subscribership levels within census blocks to develop a plan to identify barriers to broadband adoption. They will also develop marketing and promotional materials to use to promote broadband adoption and usage and work with broadband providers to encourage high speed internet services.

The CPUC oversees the California Advanced Services Fund established by the CPUC. This is a two year $100 million effort to provide 40 percent matching infrastructure grants to broadband providers putting up the matching 60 percent of funds to serve the nearly 2,000 California communities that are currently unserved and underserved by broadband.

The other NTIA grants went to the Indiana Office of Technology for $1.3 million, to the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. (E-NC Authority) for $1.6 million with an additional $435.00 to pay for broadband planning activities over five years bringing the entire grant award to over $2 million, and a grant went to the Vermont Center for Geographic Information for $1.2 million. The broadband activities are to be conducted on a semi-annual basis between 2009 and 2011 with initial data to become available in November 2009.