ARRA logoI moderated a panel yesterday at TelcoTV which revealed some interesting insight into the broadband stimulus program. Mary Campanola, Outreach Coordinator for the Rural Utilities Service revealed some progress to date concerning the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).

Perhaps the most revealing insight was, to date, 18 RUS BIP applicants have been notified that their applications made it to the second phase of the review process.

Other insight included:

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  • There were 11,000 reply comments for all 2,200 applications, indicating significant incumbent challenges of unserved/underserved claims by applicants
  • Eighty percent of all applications received at least one reply comment
  • RUS needs to validate all challenge claims, which will lengthen the award notification process
  • Announcements of award winners will begin ‘sometime’ in December, but the award notifications will be done on a rolling basis and will be ongoing well into 2010
  • Campanola revealed some interesting insight into the traditional RUS loan program as well, including “over 90% of all traditional RUS loan applications last year were for FTTH projects.”

This progress to date reveals we still have a long way to go for this program to really kick in gear. Both NTIA and RUS are making attempts to streamline the process for round two of the program, as evidenced by their latest RFI. “We are listening to applicants, reviewing applications received, and all indications suggest a need to revisit the application process. We will consider changes in the next NOFA to make the process more ‘applicant friendly’ from beginning to end,” said RUS Administrator Jonathon Adelstein in a recent press release.

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