Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Telecommunications

TELECOMMUNICATIONS


 

Broadband

The Recovery Act provides a total of $7.2 billion nationwide for expanding access to broadband.  These funds come through two programs, one administered by the Department of Commerce and the other by the Department of Agriculture.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce will distribute $4.7 billion for broadband enhancements to unserved and underserved areas across the nation through competitive grants.

The program requires a 20% local match and may be applied for by a state, local government, tribe, non-profit, service provider or infrastructure provider. The funds may be used for the purchase of equipment, software, hardware, digital network technology; construction of broadband infrastructure; access to broadband service by community anchor institutions; and access to broadband by low-income, aged or otherwise vulnerable populations.  These funds will come in two phases.

The NTIA offered states the opportunity to comment on applications. Colorado prepared a framework of priorities and a panel appointed by Gov. Ritter evaluated dozens of proposals in late September and early October and submitted comments to the NTIA in mid October. The Governor’s Office of Information Technology is coordinating the state broadband effort, and has held meetings with private and public providers to communicate requirements and solicit input.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also is awarding $2.5 billion in grants through the Rural Utilities Service.  This program is designed to expand broadband access in rural areas by laying new cables and upgrading facilities or equipment.  Seventy-five percent of these competitive grants are to be allocated to rural areas, and rural projects must be submitted to this program before submission to
NTIA. 

In December 2009, the USDA awarded a $1.5 million grant to the Peetz Cooperative Telephone Company in Logan County. This grant will allow the company to provide broadband service for the first time to hundreds of customers in northeastern Colrado.

In November 2009, Colorado received an award of approximately $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period. The grant will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Information Technology.

 

In March 2010, the Wiggins Telephone Association in Morgan County received a grant and a loan totaling $4.3 million to expand broadband access to county residents by installing fiber optic cables to homes.

Contact: John Conley, jconley@www.colorado.gov, 303-866-3992
 

Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program:
The Commerce Department is distributing $650 million nationwide in discretionary grants to the general public. These are coupons mailed to homes including funds for public education on the program.