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Notes from March 24, 2009, Meeting on Broadband Initiatives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The topics discussed at this meeting were post-award compliance and oversight, the selection criteria for grants and loans, and community economic development.

Post-Award Compliance and Oversight

  • General agreement on the need for strong performance measurements, such as increased actual deployment, increased adoption of broadband services, how many actual new connections, improved availability of service, adoption of new technology, and the need for the data collection process to be transparent.
  • There may need to be standardization, such as the geographic cell size for mapping (needs to be relevant for rural areas), and the framework for reporting on all types of program metrics; and there needs to be accountability and transparency.
  • Numerous panelists expressed concern that at-risk populations needs to be taken into consideration in all reporting processes.

Selection Criteria for Grants and Loans
The following topics were discussed in detail:

  • Job creation.
  • Sustainability.
  • Affordability.
  • Improved broadband service speeds.
  • Business case model development.
  • Benefit to unserved and underserved areas.
  • Public safety.
  • Scalability.
  • Cost.
  • Mobility.
  • Timeliness of construction.
  • Development of community.
  • Leveraging of other funds.
  • Technology.
  • Targeting the disabled, elderly, low- and moderate-income residents, Native American tribal lands, etc.
  • Health and human resource services.
  • Economic growth.
  • Shovel ready (or pole hanging ready).

Economic Development

  • Projects should directly benefit the local economy.
  • Health care networks and hospitals are key economic-development components in rural areas.
  • Community safety considerations.
  • Broadband is an essential building block in economic development.
  • Partnerships need to be developed at the local level to aggregate demand for services.
  • Redundancy of services.
  • Investments in rural broadband development leverage a considerable amount of investments from both the public and the private sectors.
  • Agra-business is greatly enhanced with broadband investments.
  • Broadband is essential for all forms of education, workforce training, and licensure training processes.
  • All the workshops in this series were designed to provide input to the agencies for consideration in the development of their grant and loan guidelines. Both agencies are accepting additional written comments through April 13, 2009. All comments coming from these workshops, as well as the written comments, will become part of the public record used by the agencies in establishing their program guidelines. The role of both NTIA and RUS in this process was strictly information gathering and, as such, no direct feedback was provided by either agency.