Friday, January 23, 2009

U.S. House Committee Refines Broadband Stimulus Proposal

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved $2.825 billion for wireless and wireline broadband as part of the economic stimulus program currently under discussion. The broadband package would authorize the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to distribute these funds through a grant program.


Specific provisions of the proposed legislation include:

  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (‘‘NTIA'') will develop and maintain a broadband inventory map of the United States that identifies and depicts the geographic extent to which broadband service capability is deployed and available from a commercial provider or public provider throughout each state. The map would be posted online.


  • The priority of the grants will be based on whether a geographic area already had broadband or advanced broadband services available.


  • The NTIA shall seek to distribute grants, to the extent possible, so that 25 percent of the wireless grants awarded go for providing wireless voice service to unserved areas and 75 percent of grants awarded shall be awarded to eligible entities for providing advanced wireless broadband service to under served areas.


  • The NTIA shall seek to distribute grants, to the extent possible, so that 25 percent of the broadband (wireline) grants awarded go to eligible entities for providing basic broadband service to unserved areas and 75 percent of grants awarded go to eligible entities for providing advanced broadband service to underserved areas.


  • Grant recipients (both wireless and wireline) will be required to operate basic and advanced broadband service networks on an open access basis;


  • The NTIA shall consult with the Federal Communications Commission and other appropriate federal agencies in implementing these grants;


  • "Advanced broadband" service is defined as at least 45 Mbps downstream and 15 Mbps upstream;


  • "Basic broadband" service is defined as at least 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream;


  • "Advanced wireless broadband" service is defined as at least 3 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream;


  • The term "Open Access" shall be defined by the FCC no later than 45 after enactment of the legislation.
http://energycommerce.house.gov

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