NTIA's Broadband Mapping Initiative Off to Strong Start
WASHINGTON - The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today that it has received applications representing all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia to participate in NTIA's State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, which will assist NTIA in creating a national broadband map. This unprecedented initiative will provide consumers with better information on the broadband Internet services available to them and inform policymakers' efforts to increase broadband availability nationwide.
"We are pleased with the unanimous response, which underscores the value of this program," said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. "This initiative will ultimately help us improve the Nation's level of broadband access and adoption, which is critical to our global competitiveness."
The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program is a competitive, merit-based matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA). The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees to gather state-specific data on the availability, speed, and location of broadband services. All governments that were eligible to apply for grants did so, whether directly or through a designated entity. The data they collect and compile, including publicly available state-wide broadband maps, will also be used to inform the comprehensive, interactive national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.
The national broadband map will publicly display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings. The national map will also be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment.
In consideration of its charge to both create and maintain the national broadband map, and its responsibility to use funds in a fiscally prudent manner, NTIA has decided to initially fund state mapping and data collection efforts for a two-year period as opposed to a five-year period as originally contemplated. This approach will allow NTIA to assess lessons learned, determine best practices, and investigate opportunities for improved data collection methods prior to awarding funds for subsequent years. Based on the information submitted by the applicants, NTIA estimates funding requests for the first two years to total approximately $100 million.
NTIA's grant awards will also include funding for state broadband planning. Planning projects may include, for example, efforts to identify barriers to broadband adoption in a state. As originally contemplated, NTIA intends to fund broadband planning grants for a five-year period. Fifty-two of the applicants requested a total of approximately $26 million to support broadband planning activities.
NTIA is currently reviewing the applications and plans to announce funding decisions beginning in the early fall.
Awardees are required to provide at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward project costs. In addition, while the BDIA mandates that each state may designate only one eligible entity to receive funds under the program, each state's applicant will be carefully evaluated and must meet the standards described in NTIA's Notice of Funds Availability for this program in order to receive funding.