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ACA Members Express Strong Interest In Obama Administration's Broadband Stimulus Program

Small Cable's Interest In Seeking Grants and Loans Is Building As Aug. 14 Deadline For Initial Project Funding Approaches

GRAPEVINE, TEXAS, July 30, 2009 - American Cable Association members are showing strong interest and confidence in the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program as almost half of ACA members surveyed said they will or most likely will apply for funding beginning as soon as next month.

"ACA members are ideal candidates for broadband stimulus funding because they share a proud tradition of operating sustainable networks over many years in markets with challenging economic conditions. The survey results confirm that no one is in a better position to fulfill the goals of the broadband stimulus program than ACA members," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

Discussion of the broadband program was the chief topic yesterday during an Independent Show forum here attended by hundreds of ACA members, who used hand-held remotes to record instantly their opinions in response to survey questions projected on a large auditorium screen.

In response to the question, "Do you anticipate filing for broadband money in the first round?" a solid 43% said they definitely would or most likely would seek a grant or loan.

"That specific poll result was encouraging, particularly because it suggests that a substantial number of small, independent cable operators have studied the rules and are ready to use the program for the benefit of their customers," Polka added.

In February, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which contained $7.2 billion in broadband grants and loans for distribution by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service by Sept. 30, 2010. The deadline to submit applications for the first round of funding is Aug. 14. Funding is intended for broadband projects in both unserved and underserved areas.

Ross J. Lieberman, ACA's Vice President of Government Affairs, noted in his comments to ACA members that the program offers "more opportunities and fewer risks for existing broadband providers in smaller markets and rural areas than one might have initially thought for a new broadband program coming out of this Administration." He encouraged ACA members to take advantage of the program as it now exists by filing in the first round. 

In other survey results, 53% of ACA members polled said that if they do apply for funding, they would seek at least $1 million. Thirty-six percent said they would apply for last mile funding, 15% would apply for middle mile projects, and 34% said they wanted funds for both last mile and middle mile development.

The ACA member survey did reveal that small cable companies are somewhat concerned that stimulus funding might be provided to entities that plan to compete in markets where robust broadband offerings already exist.

"ACA members have invested private capital to construct broadband networks in rural communities across America. It helps no one if broadband subsidies flow to `overbuilders' that do not want to provide broadband to the truly unserved," Polka said.

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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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