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Legal Alerts

Broadband and Other Stimulus Programs

March 12, 2009

Legal Alerts

Broadband and Other Stimulus Programs

March 12, 2009

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In February 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) into law. This sweeping legislation commits $7.2 billion in new spending for broadband projects that will be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) (a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Through separate programs, NTIA and RUS will offer grants and other financial awards to projects that encourage the development and use of broadband service. The professionals at Fish & Richardson understand the complexities and regulatory hurdles that grant applicants will face, and can assist you with securing funding.

Who is eligible for broadband grants?

Grants are available to states, educators, infrastructure providers, broadband service providers (including, but not limited to, those in rural communities), medical and healthcare providers, libraries, public safety agencies, and many others.

Are there other non-broadband grants available?

In addition to the broadband provisions, the ARRA also offers a multitude of education-oriented grants and appropriations that may be of particular interest to educators. For example, $53.6 billion has been appropriated for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to be administered by the Department of Education (DOE). Approximately $8.8 billion of these funds will be awarded to states that must, in turn, use this money for various public safety, educational and other governmental purposes. The ARRA has additional allocations targeting education for the disadvantaged, school improvement programs, and special education.

What factors will impact grant eligibility?

The eligibility of grant applicants will depend upon a number of factors including:

  • The applicant’s location (e.g., specific state, rural vs. urban, and unserved vs. underserved areas);
  • The type of applicant (e.g., public vs. private school, elementary school vs. “higher education”, public safety organization, medical/healthcare provider, and infrastructure provider); and
  • The applicant’s proposed project (e.g., broadband vs. non-broadband).

We can assist you to develop and implement a strategy to identify and apply for funding at both the federal and state level.

Click here for our quick reference guide entitled “How to Prepare a Successful Broadband Grant Application.”

Broadband Stimulus Updates

If you would like to subscribe to our Broadband Stimulus Program Email Alert Service, so you can be notified when new information is posted, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information

NTIA Program FAQ.

RUS Program FAQ.

Additional Education-Oriented Grants and Appropriations.

NTIA/RUS Broadband Grant and Loan Programs: Procedures and Requirements.

Broadband Stimulus Opportunities for Equipment Manufacturers and Vendors.

Recent Events Involving the Broadband and Other Stimulus Programs

Department of Education Releases Guidance for Grant Programs (April 1, 2009): The Department of Education just released a number of guidance documents for various DOE grant programs. Click on the links below for more information.

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Letter
State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application
State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Guidance

Title I, Part A Recovery Funds for Grants to Local Educational Agencies

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C

Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants

Independent Living Services

Congressional Oversight Hearing on ARRA: Broadband (April 2, 2009): The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet will conduct an oversight hearing on the implementation of the broadband provisions of the ARRA on April 2, 2009 at 9:30 AM at 2322 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC. Representatives from NTIA, RUS and the FCC will be attending.

FCC Release: Comment Procedures Established for the FCC’s Consultative Role in the Broadband Provisions of the ARRA (March 24, 2009). The FCC seeks public comment on its role with respect to the NTIA/RUS grant programs including its input on defining “unserved area,” “underserved area,” “broadband,” and non-discrimination and interconnection obligations. Comments are due April 13, 2009. Click here for the release.

White House Memorandum: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies Re Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds (March 20, 2009. The Obama administration has directed federal departments and agencies responsible for implementing programs funded under the Recovery Act to follow new financial accountability requirements. Click here for the White House memorandum which impacts the broadband and education grant programs, among others.

FCC Release: FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for April 8, 2009 Open Meeting (March 19, 2009). The FCC agenda includes a Notice of Inquiry on developing a National Broadband Plan as required by the ARRA. Click here for the tentative agenda.

NTIA and RUS Release: Agendas of Additional Public Meetings Scheduled for March 16, 17, 18, 19, 23 and 24 Announced (March 13, 2009). NTIA and RUS announce the agendas for their upcoming public meetings. Important topics to be discussed include private sector eligibility and the definition of “broadband”. Click here for the agendas. UPDATE on March 30, 2009: The transcripts for each of the meetings are now available at the NTIA web site. Scroll down to “Helpful Government Links” below and click on the “NTIA Broadband Technology Program” link for access to the transcripts.

Joint Request for Information and Notice of Public Meetings: NTIA and RUS Broadband Initiative Announced in Federal Register (March 12, 2009). NTIA and RUS seek comment on a wide variety of issues related to their broadband programs. Comments are due April 13, 2009. Click here for the Federal Register Notice.

Public Meeting on the Broadband Initiatives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (March 10, 2009). Representatives from NTIA, RUS and the Federal Communications Commission meet to discuss the statutory requirements and timelines associated with the NTIA and RUS Programs. Click here for the meeting agenda. Click here for the meeting handout that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on March 12, 2009.

FCC Public Notice: Comment Date Established for Report on Rural Broadband Strategy (March 10, 2009). FCC announces that it is seeking public comment to assist in the preparation of a comprehensive rural broadband strategy in consultation with USDA. FCC notes the importance of broadband services in improving the educational opportunities of children in rural areas. Comments are due March 25, 2009. Click here for the notice.

Department of Education Releases: Education Department to Distribute $44 Billion in Stimulus Funds in 30 to 45 Days (March 7, 2009). DOE announces that stimulus funds will soon be available to states. Click here for the release. DOE also releases an overview of the ARRA funds targeted for educational purposes. Click here for the release.

FCC News Release: Vilsack, Copps and Wade to Kick Off the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Initiative (March 6, 2009). FCC announces the kickoff of the ARRA’s broadband initiative. Click here for the release.

Joint Notice: Public Meeting of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Broadband Initiatives Issued in the Federal Register (February 27, 2009). NTIA, RUS, and FCC announce a public meeting to discuss the broadband initiatives funded by the ARRA. Click here for the Federal Register notice.

Notice and Clarification: NTIA Broadband Grant Programs Meetings (February 24, 2009). NTIA invites all interested parties to schedule a meeting with NTIA staff to discuss the broadband initiatives funded by the ARRA. Click here for the Federal Register notice. However, in the Federal Register dated March 18, 2009, NTIA indicated that it would not be able to accommodate such meetings. Click here for the Federal Register clarification.

Helpful Government Links

NTIA Broadband Technology Program

RUS Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program

FCC Broadband Information

General ARRA Information

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

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