This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
On Aug. 18, the Department of Commerce and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service announced $1.8 billion in awards for 94 Recovery Act broadband projects in 37 states. The announcement was just the latest in a string of awards granted by the agencies over the past year, which aims to deliver up to $7.2 billion earmarked by Congress. However, the funding announcements window for these programs is closing, as Congress has required the agencies make all Recovery Act awards by Sept. 30 (of last month).
Between press time on Aug. 20 and the Sept. 30 deadline, the USDA was expected in September to fund another 65 projects for last-mile broadband services, satellite broadband, and related projects at approximately $450 million, and the DoC was expected to award between $1 billion and $1.7 billion on a similar number of projects, aimed at public safety, community infrastructure, broadband mapping, and public computing.
Over the next two to five years, these broadband stimulus projects will boost broadband speeds and last-mile deployment, especially in rural and other underserved areas. This undoubtedly will give VoIP providers and vendors more opportunities to market products to consumers in areas that previously lacked the infrastructure needed to support such services in the past.
Broadband stimulus funding also is contingent upon an awardee commitment to follow the principles of the FCC’s (News - Alert) Internet Policy Statement, which among other things requires ISPs to let users choose whatever devices and applications they like without interference from the carrier. The agencies also have required awardees to not favor any lawful Internet applications and content over others and offer interconnection where feasible at reasonable rates and terms. These measures should help pave the way for VoIP application providers and equipment vendors to benefit from the increased broadband penetration expected from these programs over the coming years.
TMCnet publishes expert commentary on various telecommunications, IT, call center, CRM and other technology-related topics. Are you an expert in one of these fields, and interested in having your perspective published on a site that gets several million unique visitors each month? Get in touch.
Edited by Tammy Wolf