So I think the final word on the Stimulus package is $7 billion to broadband to un-served and under-served areas. It looks as if providing access is broadly defined as providing infrastructure, access to computers or education.
Most of that money will be managed by the NTIA and some by RUS, however, word on the street is that NTIA will seek guidance from the States – especially when it comes to determining which areas are un- or underserved. (I suspect the Connect Minnesota maps will come into play!) The goal is to award funding before the end of 2010. Federal funding for the project should not exceed 80 percent (although it looked like there may have been a loophole there.) There seems to be some skepticism about the likeliness of spending all of that money by 2010.
Tax credits, it seems, are not part of the plan. So that seems to advantage the smaller providers. I think it also indicates more accountability for funds.
A provision I especially like, the FCC is set to the task of developing a national broadband strategy. (Are they the right folks? I don’t know but the need is there!)
So what does that mean for Minnesota? I think it’s tough to say. The NTIA is required to fund at least one project in each state. So that’s good. I read on the MPR web site that the estimate of $4 billion for Minnesota from the Stimulus package does not include any broadband grants.