Five broadband projects in California were proposed for federal agriculture department funding in the second round of ReConnect broadband grant and loan applications. That’s five more than the first round in 2019, so that’s progress of a sort. They’ll compete with more than 200 other projects in other states for $300 in grants and $300 million in loans, plus another $100 million included in the $2 trillion federal covid–19 stimulus bill that’ll be available to projects submitted in both rounds.… More
Update, 27 March 2020: president Trump signed the bill, it’s a done deal.
Update, 27 March 2020: the U.S. house of representatives approved the bill, it now goes to president Trump.
A vote on the $2 trillion federal covid–19 stimulus bill is expected in the U.S. house of representatives later today, and president Trump says he’ll sign it immediately. I also found the full text of the bill, as published by the U.S. senate’s appropriations committee.… More
Even by Washington, D.C. standards, $2 trillion is a lot of money. By those same standards, though, $325 million isn’t much and that appears to be the extent of direct broadband assistance in the $2 trillion covid–19 “stimulus” bill approved by the U.S. senate late last night. If there’s indirect broadband help, it’s buried in the bill’s yet-to-be-published text.
According to a summary obtained by Bloomberg Law yesterday, the bill adds $100 million to a broadband infrastructure program run by the federal agriculture department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), as well as $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission’s telehealth subsidy kitty and $25 million for a telehealth and distance learning program, also managed by RUS.… More
Correction: The yellow blobs on the map above are not pending ReConnect grants, they are pending rural telco applications, which are also administered by RUS. So California is still a great big zero for ReConnect grants and/or loans. Thank you to a Gentle Reader for gently pointing that out. The text below has been updated accordingly.
Another round of broadband infrastructure subsidies is on the way from the federal agriculture department. A six week application window for the Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS) Reconnect program opens on 31 January 2020, with $512 million on the table.
It appears that the problems with the ReConnect program that shut California out of the first round of grants and loans earlier this year haven’t been fixed. On the face of it, the basic eligibility criteria are pretty simple…
90 percent of the proposed funded service area must not have sufficient access to broadband.
The federal agriculture department’s ReConnect program is new. It supplements an older program that wasn’t much use in California. We’re hopeful this new version will be better for us. But we won’t know until we see results. Grant money will be awarded on a competitive basis, with the first grant application deadline last month, and windows for grant/loan combinations and pure loans coming up.
On paper, it’s easier for Californian projects to qualify – e.g. projects submitted by private, for profit ISPs, which we have, as opposed to co-ops and similar, which we don’t so much.… More
There’s more coherency and cooperation amongst federal broadband development planning and programs, according to a report just released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Once you get past the love letter penned to president Donald Trump by a couple of his cabinet secretaries, it’s a good overview of how at least some parts of the federal bureaucracy are trying to coordinate broadband policy.
The need for better execution is clear. The report notes the gap between urban and rural broadband availability – 2% of urban residents lack access to fixed service at a minimum speed of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.… More
Rural broadband grant money will go to areas where 100% of homes do not have access to sufficiently fast service, which is defined as 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds from a wireline or fixed wireless provider. Mobile and satellite service don’t count. If a mix of grant and loan is applied for, then only 90% of the homes have to be unserved at that level.
The federal agriculture department rolled out its new ReConnect program in a webinar yesterday, and filled in a lot of the details about what sort of areas are eligible, which will score higher than others, and who can apply for the $300 million in grants and $300 million in loan money approved by congress earlier this year.… More
The federal agriculture department will be handing out $300 million in broadband upgrade grants, and making another $300 million in loans next spring. It’s the result of a new rural broadband subsidy program that was included in a massive federal budget bill earlier this year. The (sparse) details were announced on Thursday, the day after the federal farm bill was passed by congress.
The ReConnect program, as it’s called, has a lot in common with the 5 year, $350 million per year broadband subsidy funding in the farm bill.… More
A five year farm bill with billions of dollars set aside for improving broadband infrastructure in rural areas is heading for president Donald Trump’s desk. Negotiators from the federal senate and house of representatives cobbled together a compromise bill earlier this week, and the house gave it a final blessing yesterday. It keeps most of the pro-broadband development provisions in earlier drafts.
The bill also legalises hemp production – the roping, not the doping kind.
The conference report is more than 800 pages long, and until I get through it all in detail I’m not going to try to figure how much broadband money is actually in it.… More