The NTIA recently issued its quarterly status report related to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
For refresher purposes – As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, both the NTIA and the RUS announced broadband stimulus programs. The NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) was primarily focused on middle-mile infrastructure, Public Computing Centers (PCC) and Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) programs. The RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) was primarily focused on last-mile infrastructure and connectivity. In all, both programs awarded a total of $7.4 billion in grants and loans for 648 projects in support of broadband programs. Award recipients must substantially complete projects within 2 years (67 percent complete) of award (2012) and all projects must be fully completed within 3 years – meaning the bulk of the projects must be fully competed by September 2013.
The current report is the 12th quarterly report to Congress since the program was initiated and the results are not only encouraging but better than expected. Although the RUS BIP program is also required to provide quarterly reports – the last publically issued report was for 4Q10.
According to the BTOP report, grant recipients collectively exceeded all performance goals established for FY 11 (runs October 1 to September 30.) as shown in the figure below:
Infrastructure Projects: Vastly exceeded the FY11 target of 10,000 miles with 29,191 miles at the end of FY11. Additionally, BTOP projects have already reach 90% of its FY12 target to deploy 50,000 new or upgrade miles.
Community Anchor Institutions: Exceeded the goal of connecting 3,000 anchor institutions by end of FY11 and has reached 64% of its FY12 goal to connect 10,000 institutions
Public Computer Center Workstations: Surpassed the goal of 10,000 workstations by installing 24,512 by end of FY11 and have already reached 84% of FY12 goal of 35,000.
Regarding Sustainable Broadband Adoption programs, NTIA also report higher than expected results with more than 230,755 households and business subscribing to broadband services, versus the FY11 goal of 100,000. Additionally, this program has already reached 74% of its goal of 350,000 for FY12.
Finally, NTIA announced that BTOP recipients had reached a milestone in December 2011, surpassing $1 billion to total draw-downs. NTIA also visited 33 recipients representing total grants of $571.6 million and, to date, has visited with 53 percent of awards, representing 80% of total BTOP funds.
Undoubtedly, this is great news – but it is the last mile projects that will have the most impact on broadband subscriber growth. So my message to the RUS is: “Show us the money and what is being done with it” and start publishing a quarterly update similar to the NTIA or some other type of update that demonstrates a similar succces story as NTIA.
The next NTIA update is expected in July 2012.