Dozens of American Cable Association members have applied for more than a billion dollars in grants and loans under the $7.2 billion federal broadband stimulus programming run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service.
"With decades of experience serving rural America, ACA members have now proven in their applications why they are ideal candidates to receive broadband stimulus dollars to help advance the goal of providing every American with affordable access to the Internet over state-of-the-art facilities," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "ACA urges NTIA and RUS to recognize that ACA members have been reliable providers of advanced communications services in rural areas and represent the best hope of extending broadband into the most economically and technically challenging areas in the country. We encourage the agencies to approve all of our members' applications."
In all, more than 83 small, independent cable companies applied for broadband stimulus funding for 127 last-mile and middle-mile projects totaling more than $1.3 billion. Among the ACA members to seek funding were: NPG Cable; Wave Broadband; Boycom Cablevision; and NewWave Communications.
"Our company's applications to fund several last-mile projects will bring critical broadband infrastructure to unserved areas for the first time, and we expect they will spur economic growth and job creation," said Steve Friedman, who is ACA chairman and chief operating officer of Wave Broadband in Kirkland, Wash.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress authorized the NTIA and the RUS to distribute $7.2 billion in broadband grants and loans by the end of next September. In the first funding round, NTIA and RUS received about 2,200 applications seeking $28 billion in combined funding for broadband facilities as well as broadband awareness, training, support and construction of local computer centers.
"Although many ACA members applied for grants and loans, the turnout would have been greater if the federal government had not attached funding restrictions that made it more difficult for small cable companies to apply," Polka said. "For instance, ACA members that didn't seek funding noted that the federal government's insistence on holding the first lien would have violated terms and conditions contained in many existing bank loan agreements, making applying for the program impossible. The 10-year prohibition on the sale of federally funded projects was also cited as a deterrent to participation by ACA members. We hope these onerous restrictions will be lifted before applications for the second round are due."