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ACA Praises Obama Administration For Affirming Vital Need For Funding Middle-Mile Projects With Broadband Stimulus Money

RUS Specifically Sets Aside $800 Million To Bolster Backhaul Capacity In Rural America; NTIA Has Up To $1.2 Billion To Fund These Projects

PITTSBURGH, July, 1 2009 - The American Cable Association commended the Obama Administration for releasing new broadband stimulus funding rules that take into account the view of its organization and members regarding the vital need for middle-mile projects to be funded.  Small, independent cable operators, who will play a crucial role in helping the Administration achieve its goal of producing affordable, robust broadband across the entire United States, sought attention to broadband backhaul issues in its public comments to the agencies earlier this year.

"Small and mid-sized cable operators are in the best position to deliver the benefits of broadband to unserved or underserved homes.  ACA appreciates that the Obama Administration's rules have recognized the need for middle-mile projects to be funded, and that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has specifically set aside up to $800 million for this purpose," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

Of the $2.4 billion available to the Department of Agriculture's RUS to carry out the purposes of its Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), the agency allocated up to $800 million in loans and loan/grant combinations for middle-mile projects in the recently released Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).  As part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the agency set aside $1.2 billion in the NOFA to fund projects within the Broadband Infrastructure category, which consists of two components - last mile and middle mile. 

In its NTIA and RUS comments filed on April 13, the ACA expressed the view that funding in underserved area should focus on the construction and improvement of middle-mile facilities that connect local broadband networks to Internet access points that are often positioned many, many miles apart from each other. End-user download speeds in rural areas would be much faster if local broadband providers had access to affordable, high-speed middle-mile facilities.

ACA also stressed that small and medium-sized operators were ideal candidates for funding because they have the financial, operational and technical experience running reliable, sustainable networks in small towns and rural areas.

"Seeing now how the programs will be administrated, I expect that small and medium-sized cable operators will apply for funding to build both middle-mile and last-mile projects." said Polka.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress authorized the NTIA and the RUS to distribute $7.2 billion in grants and loans for broadband projects in unserved and underserved parts of the country.

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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