The American Cable Association applauded the bipartisan leadership of the House Committee on Small Business for writing a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service that supports changes to the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program that incorporate many of the concerns raised by ACA board member and NewWave Communications President & CEO James Gleason at a committee hearing on Oct. 28, 2009.
"As the House Small Business Committee's detailed letter to NTIA and RUS makes clear, new rules are necessary now to encourage greater participation in the broadband stimulus program by smaller operators who currently serve smaller markets and rural areas and who, like many ACA members, have been leaders in providing advanced communications services in these areas for decades," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
NTIA and RUS are expected to announce the names of the first funding recipients in December. The deadline to commit all funds under the program is Sept. 30, 2010.
ACA has urged NTIA and RUS to alter its rules to make it easier for ACA members to apply for stimulus funding, especially for grant money.
"I am very pleased that Chairwoman Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D.-N.Y.) and ranking member Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) agreed with ACA that applicants should have easier access to grant money and not be constrained by the first-lien rule or the prohibition on the sale of funded infrastructure for 10 years, among other issues," Polka added.
In his Oct. 28 testimony before the House Small Business Committee, Gleason expressed many of the concerns about the broadband stimulus program described in the committee's letter today to NTIA and RUS.
Gleason also spoke of unnecessary cost burdens, such as the need for his Sikeston, Mo.-based small cable company to spend $50,000 to meet complex application standards set by NTIA and RUS and another $30,000 in an attempt to fend off applicants that sought federal grants and loans to enter his service areas that already have access to broadband.
NewWave has applied for $10.1 million in stimulus funds to upgrade fiber and cable facilities in 11 communities in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina. The network upgrades will be state-of-the-art fiber-to-the-curb designs and will offer these rural communities DOCSIS 3.0 technology with data speeds up to 100 Mbps.
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