There was $7.2 billion up for grabs from the broadband stimulus program, $2.5 billion of which was mostly earmarked for last mile broadband access. According to the FTTH Council, most of the projects and corresponding funding for last mile broadband access was awarded to FTTH projects, primarily through the Rural Utilities Service BIP program..
Due to matching grants and loans, RUS actually counts $3.5 billion towards the program, which funded 297 broadband infrastructure projects, all of which are listed on the Broadband USA website.
According to the FTTH Council’s math, 156 FTTH projects accounted for $2.33 billion of the total funding, or roughly 1/2 of the projects and 2/3 of the total funding.
Not much surprise here – we’ve been following the awardees pretty closely over the past 18 months. I’m certainly pro-FTTH and believe that any service provider who can go FTTH, should. But the FTTH funding under the broadband stimulus program does create somewhat of a mixed message.
The national broadband plan, which came about as a direct result of the stimulus program, implies that DSL and wireless technology are the best methods available to achieve its objectives. Yet federal funding appears to be favoring FTTH, perhaps rightly so.
Remember that saying, ‘one of those things that makes you go hmmmm?’
One thought on “FTTH Council: FTTH Wins the Broadband Stimulus Prize”
The clear wireless-centric tone of the National Broadband Plan, together with the FCC's avowed intent of "repurposing" high cost funds, has led some of the best-run RLECs to question whether they will be able to service the additional debt required to elevate the quality of service and/or migrate their entire footprint to FTTH. As a result of the FCC's industrial policy of selecting wireless winners and labeling rural terrestrial providers as de facto "losers," instead of building out, some of the most sophisticated providers have actually declined RUS packages involving grants and loans packaged together, and are pulling back from aggressive buildout plans. RUS under former FCC Commissioner Adelstein has gotten it exactly right; the FCC's misguided proposals under Chairman Genachowski are actually suppressing broadband expansion into rural areas.