US telecom and utilities agencies last week reported they had received 2,200 applications for about $28 billion in the first round of broadband project funding.
Applicants also pledged $10.5 billion in matching funds, bringing the total cost of proposed projects to more than $38 billion.
The agencies involved in distributing the funds are the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
This is the first round of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding (including $4 billion in loans, grants and loan/grant combinations) to help service providers and state & local governments enhance broadband access and adoption.
“Applicants requested nearly seven times the amount of funding available, which demonstrates the substantial interest in expanding broadband across the Nation,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA, in a release.
“We will move quickly but carefully to fund the best projects to bring broadband and jobs to more Americans.”
A diverse set of applicants, including state & local governments, non-profit organizations, education institutions, hospitals and public safety organizations, applied for the $2.4 billion the RUS made available and the $1.6 billion the NTIA is administering.
Despite the optimism of the NTIA and the RUS, not everyone is convinced the broadband handouts are a good idea.
- here's the official NTIA/RUS release