Comments Submitted by Thomas M. Hunter, Executive Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission, to the National Telecommunications Information Administration Regarding the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency representing 420 counties in thirteen states. The Commission has a long history of telecommunications-related program development in the rural areas of Appalachia, and recognizes the critical role telecommunications plays in rural communities. ARC attended all the public meetings held in Washington, D.C. ARC provided many public comments throughout the various meetings. As a result of attending these meetings, ARC feels there is a significant role regional commissions can play in assisting in the implementation of the various programs that the National Telecommunications Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service will deliver in regard to the ARRA.
In addition to the comments provided by ARC staff at public meetings, the Commission has two recommendations:
Recommendation One: Regional commissions should be eligible grant recipients from both federal agencies, either as conduits for the distribution of funds for discrete projects within their respective regions, or as direct grant recipients for multi-jurisdictional projects.
Recommendation Two: Priority should be given to projects that are multi-jurisdictional, multi-county, multi-state and/or regionwide in scope that would address broadband deployment, innovative and sustainable technology applications, and broadband training and community awareness for rural unserved and underserved areas.