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Friday, November 5, 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

As of October 1, 2010, all BTOP and BIP award announcements were complete. In total, NTIA
and RUS announced awards for 553 projects, constituting $7.5 billion in federal funding. This
included 233 BTOP projects (totaling $3.9 billion) and 320 BIP projects (totaling $3.6 billion). Of
the $7.5 billion total announced, $6.2 billion was grant funding, and $1.3 billion was loan

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, about half was awarded to middle mile projects and half 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 accounted 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

Date of Report: October 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R41164
Price: $29.95

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