The federal government has received nearly 2,200 applications from organizations seeking funding to provide broadband services and programs as part of the economic stimulus program.
The proposals seek $28 billion in funding, seven times the $4 billion available in this round of grant making, according to a press release.
“The overwhelming response we received underscores the extensive interest in expanding broadband across the country,” said Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Services (RUS). “Rural communities clearly recognize that broadband can expand their economic opportunities and create jobs.”
RUS will give away up to $2.4 billion this year for broadband infrastructure for rural communities. The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA) will award another $1.6 billion this year for broadband projects, which won’t be limited to rural areas. The agencies will have a second round of grant making next year to distribute the rest of the $7.2 billion set aside in the federal stimulus package for investment in broadband infrastructure, access, and other programs.
NTIA and RUS will now start processing the proposals. NTIA has announced that it is seeking volunteers to help with peer evaluations of the proposals. The agencies also say they will post and online searchable database containing summaries of all the applications.