NTIA and RUS Procedures, Conditions and Criteria for Round One of Recovery Act Broadband Funding
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“Recovery Act”) included $7.2 billion of new spending on broadband infrastructure deployment and related broadband matters. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utility Service (RUS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recently released a joint Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) outlining the application procedures, conditions applicable to the funding, and application evaluation criteria for the first round of Recovery Act broadband funding. Approximately $4 billion of funding is available under this NOFA. Remaining Recovery Act broadband funding is expected to be awarded in two subsequent funding rounds pursuant to separate notices. NTIA and RUS reserve the right to modify the funding rules for such subsequent funding rounds.
The broadband funding available under the NOFA is divided between RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), which will issue approximately $2.4 billion in grants, loans and grant/loan combinations, and NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which will issue approximately $1.6 billion in grants. BIP funding includes up to $1.2 billion for “Last Mile” (terms set forth in quotes defined below) and $800 million for “Middle Mile” “Broadband Infrastructure” projects, as well as $325 million for a national reserve that can be used to fund either. Of the Last Mile BIP funding, $400 million will be issued as grants for projects that serve “Remote” areas and $800 million will be issued as loans or loan/grant combinations for projects serving “Non-Remote” areas. BTOP funding includes up to $1.2 billion for Last Mile and Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure projects, up to $50 million for “Public Computer Center” projects and up to $150 million for “Sustainable Broadband Adoption” projects. In addition, RUS and NTIA reserve the right to redesignate funding from one category to another (subject to certain Recovery Act thresholds in the case of BTOP) and to direct funding not assigned under this NOFA to future funding rounds.
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Akin Gump has formed a Broadband Stimulus Advisory Group, consisting of lawyers and advisors who can assist with the variety of issues that may arise in the application process to obtain funds available through NTIA’s BTOP and RUS’ BIP. Our team includes lawyers and advisors from our communications, public law and policy, government contracts, corporate and tax practices.
If you would like to develop projects appropriate for NTIA and/or RUS funding, please contact Tom W. Davidson, Phillip R. Marchesiello or any of the members of Akin Gump’s Broadband Advisory Group listed below.