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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Distribution of Broadband Stimulus Grants and Loans: Applications and Awards

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant and loan programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NTIA grant program is called the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP). The RUS broadband grant and loan program is called the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).

As of October 1, 2010, all BTOP and BIP award announcements are complete. In total, NTIA and RUS announced awards for 540 projects, constituting $7.58 billion in federal funding. This included 233 BTOP projects (totaling $3.94 billion) and 307 BIP projects (totaling $3.64 billion). Of the $7.58 billion total announced, $6.26 billion was grant funding, and $1.32 billion was loan funding.

This report focuses on the distribution of ARRA broadband funding with respect to project category, broadband infrastructure technology deployed, and state-by-state distribution. Of all broadband infrastructure funding, a little more than half (51%) was awarded to middle mile projects and 49% was awarded to last mile projects. Deployment of broadband infrastructure can encompass a number of different types of technologies, including fiber, wireless, cable modem, DSL, satellite, and others. Projects involving fiber account for about two-thirds of all infrastructure projects.

Congress is likely to continue providing oversight on NTIA and RUS efforts to monitor funded projects. In the longer term, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) National Broadband Plan has recommended a significant expansion of federal funding for broadband deployment in unserved areas. To the extent that Congress may consider whether broadband grant and loan programs should be expanded, the funding patterns and trends that emerged during Rounds One and Two, as well as the ultimate successes and failures of funded BTOP and BIP projects, could provide insights into whether and how such programs should be expanded, and if so, how these or similar programs might be fashioned within the context of a national broadband policy.

Date of Report: October 7, 2010
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R41164
Price: $29.95

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