Service providers and other organizations that won broadband stimulus awards from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have made significant progress on their projects, according to a report issued by the NTIA in March.
“Grant recipients collectively exceeded all performance goals established for [fiscal year 2011],” wrote the NTIA in the “Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Quarterly Program Status Report.” Through December 2011, the authors said, “the program has delivered significant progress in areas such as new fiber-optic infrastructure construction, the opening of new [public computing centers] and thousands of new broadband subscribers now experiencing the benefits of the high-speed Internet service.”
Meeting deadlines is important for all broadband stimulus winners, but it is especially critical to the 123 network infrastructure projects, 66 public computer center projects, and 44 sustainable broadband adoption projects that won funding from the NTIA. The reason is that unlike the Rural Utilities Service, which has some flexibility to extend initial deadlines, the NTIA is locked in to the deadlines specified in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Working in the NTIA’s favor, however, is the fact that the public computer center and sustainable broadband adoption projects generally are less complex to execute than infrastructure projects. In contrast, all RUS stimulus awards were for infrastructure projects.
Other highlights of the latest quarterly BTOP status report:
- NTIA has reached 90% of its fiscal year 2012 goal to deploy 50,000 new or upgraded network miles across the country. Recipients deployed more than 16,000 network miles during the past quarter, bringing the total number of miles to 45,196.
- BTOP recipients connected or improved service to more than 2,211 anchor institutions within their project areas, bringing the total number of institutions to 6,374 across 35 states. The total number of anchors connected via BTOP-funded infrastructure increased by more than 50% from the previous quarter. NTIA has reached 64% of its fiscal year 2012 goal to connect 10,000 anchor institutions.
- Though December 2011, BTOP recipients installed more than 29,500 new workstations in public computing centers in 36 states, reaching nearly 84% of the total program goal to install 35,000 new or upgraded public workstations.
- Through December 2011, BTOP recipients reported that training and adoption projects led 259,446 households and 1,276 businesses to subscribe to broadband services. NTIA has reached 74% of its fiscal year 2012 goal to attain 350,000 new broadband subscribers.
- BTOP recipients now have spent more than $1 billion of the $4.2 billion they were awarded. During the past quarter, recipients spent more than $415 million of federal grant funds, matched by recipient funds of more than $145 million.
The BTOP quarterly report also contains brief profiles of several stimulus-winning projects, including the Northwest Open Access Network, Com Net’s GigE PLUS Availability Coalition, the University of Utah, ENMR Telephone Cooperative, the Nebraska Library Commission, the City of Milwaukee’s Connecting Milwaukee Communities project, the Foundation for California Community Colleges and the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth.