The National Telecommunications and Information Agency received less than half the number of applications in the second round of broadband stimulus funding than it did in Round 1.
The total number of applicants in Round 2 was just 867, compared with nearly 1800 in the first round. The biggest drop was in the infrastructure category, for which the NTIA received 355 applications—down from 1090 in the first round.
This was likely a result of new application guidelines, which now prohibit applicants from filing the same project with both the NTIA and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the agency that is administering the broadband stimulus program in cooperation with the NTIA. In the first round, applicants for infrastructure funding were allowed to submit the same project to both agencies. Although they were not allowed to receive duplicate funding, the idea was to improve the odds of winning something—and 830 joint applications were made in Round 1.
Despite their reduced numbers, however, infrastructure projects represented the majority of funding requested from the NTIA in the second round—$8.4 billion out of $11 billion total requested. The NTIA has approximately $2.35 billion available for this round for infrastructure applications, with an additional $250 million or more available for non-infrastructure projects, which include sustainable broadband adoption and public computer center projects.
The RUS has not yet announced how many applications it received in the second round. But several carriers — including Qwest, TDS Telecom and Windstream — already have announced that they have applied for RUS funding. An RUS spokesman said the agency expects to release its Round 2 application totals within a few days.
The RUS, which was allotted $2.5 billion to distribute over two rounds, recently said it had completed all awards for Round 1 and has awarded less than half of its total amount to date.