Stimulus Funding State Internet Mapping, Too

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In addition to funding broadband projects in the states, particularly in rural areas, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package, includes funds for collection of state-level broadband data, as well as state-wide broadband mapping and planning.

The project, which will also help create a national broadband map, is being managed by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program, announced on July 1, is a competitive, merit-based matching grant program that will provide approximately $240 million in grants to assist states or their designees to develop state-specific data on the deployment levels and adoption rates of broadband services, the NTIA said. Awardees are required to contribute at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward project costs.

Each state could have only a single, eligible entity to perform the mapping. Applications for the program were accepted from July 14 to August 14.

On September 9, the NTIA announced that it had received applications representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia. Fifty-two of the 56 states (or their designated entities) also submitted requests for broadband planning funds, typically about $500,000 each over a 5-year period, the NTIA said, which also released a list of the applicants.

Now, the NTIA is beginning to announce grant awards made to the states for mapping. On October 5, the NTIA announced the first grants:

  • California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC): approximately $1.8 million
  • Indiana Office of Technology (IOT): approximately $1.3 million
  • Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. (e-NC Authority): approximately $1.6 million
  • Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI): approximately $1.2 million

The CPUC was also awarded $500,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in California over four years, bringing its grant award total to approximately $2.3 million, and the e-NC Authority was awarded approximately $435,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in North Carolina over five years, bringing its grant award total to over $2 million, the NTIA said.

On October 23, the NTIA announced a grant of approximately $1.4 million to fund broadband mapping and planning activities in West Virginia. In addition, the West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey will receive $185,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in West Virginia over two years, bringing its grant award total to approximately $1.4 million.

Other states are waiting to hear responses.

The national broadband mapping project has come under criticism in recent months for bowing to industry pressure and planning to put less detail in the map.