We all saw this coming. The has been delayed. It looks like the first funding round won’t commence until December 2009. This was revealed in a to Congress. The now December timeframe for grant distribution was originally believed to be scheduled for sometime this summer. The new timelines, as revealed on are as follows:

NTIA Program

  • Procurement for Grants Program Assistance Services March – June 2009
  • Award Contract for Grants Program Support June 2009
  • Preparation for Initial Solicitation for Proposals April – June 2009
  • Publish Notice of Funds Availability June 2009
  • Initial Proposal Processing and Review Sept – Dec. 2009
  • Initial Grant Awards Made December 2009
  • Second Solicitation for Proposals Oct – Dec 2009
  • Third Solicitation for Proposals April – June 2010
  • All Awards to Be Made September 2010

RUS Program

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  • Procure contractor for implementation, administration and oversight assistance – June 12, 2009
  • Rural Development anticipates publishing a NOFA in June for first round funding with anticipated awards by the end of FY 2009

The delays are a disappointment for many, including broadband equipment suppliers and consulting engineers. There’s a lot of speculation that the delays in the broadband program have brought CAPEX by rural broadband carriers to a halt, as they wait to see how the broadband stimulus program plays out. The thinking being, why commit to spending money on network build outs before you understand the stimulus opportunity? After all, one thing the government has revealed is that network builds already in planning stages or underway will not qualify for stimulus funding. These delays may put pressure on NTIA and RUS to relax those rules.

In defense of the government, it was wholly unrealistic to think they could implement this program quickly. They’re almost in a no win situation. If they hurry up and get the grant money out without thinking the process through thoroughly, they risk fraud, waste, and abuse. It is over $7 billion after all – not to mention the mandate they have to have it all distributed by Fall 2010. If they take too long, they’ll be accused of government inefficiency and mismanagement. Hopefully they can find a happy medium

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