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NoFA Finally Arrives – What Now?

rural broadbandWell, the long awaited Notice of Funding Availability (NoFA) from the FCC is here.Of course, the headlines will (with good reason) focus on the $4B being set aside as well as the the (very) short 45-day window required to meet the August 14th first round deadline.I found a few other items of particular interest (two positive/one neutral)

  • Nondiscrimination and interconnection requirements (to the pleasant surprise of Service Providers (SPs)) are not significantly tighter than current FCC policy and the reporting rules are relatively simple for awardees to pull together and submit. Whew!
  • Public Notice will be required of all applications. I think it points to the agency’s motive of providing some transparency and data/fact integrity of applications submitted. In other words, this allows an incumbent to jump up and say “Hey this area is NOT un/under-served…I’m serving it.” It also provides application processors the chance to ascertain whether the facts, in the applications are correct. Note that the agency has reserved the right to recommend modification to an application so that it better fits the program and to correct factual errors. It also provides negotiating room without spoiling the integrity and spirit of the application.
  • Prior and existing projects will not count. We had heard and were seeing some SPs delaying projects out of fear that they would not be considered eligible for stimulus funds if started before. They were correct. This rule not only affirms that fear but potentially rewards those who did delay their projects…which is asynchronous given the emphasis of ARRA in general was to create jobs by putting dollars to work sooner.

It will be interesting to see this play out and to see how the tight timeline and transparency are followed and received. These are my initial thoughts. Tell me what you think?Spencer HodsonManaging Director, Business Development US Servicer ProviderFor more information about what Cisco can do to help, please visit our website -- Economic Stimulus Opportunity for Broadband.

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1 Comments.


  1. I attended the DC and Memphis BTOP/BIP briefings about the NOFA and found the atmosphere almost entrepreneurial”", particularly on the NTIA side. They are really trying to not do the same old thing. We are working with carriers in the west TN region to coordinate an Adoption strategy for the entire region (the NTIA and RUS favor a regional, coordinated approach). This is working out well so far. The bid rules are complex but for what they are doing, are amazingly well thought out. Three points that need adjustment are:1. The grant funds are taxable to a for-profit entity. This means the matching money required isn’t 20% but more like 55%. Stimulus money should not be a recycling bin for the IRS. The real affect of this is that profitable small carriers (the kind that actually create sustainable businesses) may have to cut their total programs by 50% to make up for this. This needs a frontal attack via Congress.2. The definition of Remote Rural, which qualifies you for RUS grant funds, is an unserved rural census block more than 50 miles away from a city of 20,000 people. This eliminated the entire state of Tennessee for RUS pure grant funds. You are left with the RUS loan/grant program which, for many carriers, can be beat by commercial loans without the oversight and strings. The RUS has promised to address this issue as it received wide complaints.3. The Compliance for this grant is enormous. Most small carriers have no idea what they are wading into. The OIG, RUS, and NTIA could package a more detailed explanation of what is involved in Compliance rather than just providing a reading list. I recorded most of the critical sessions with the accompanying powerpoints and they can be viewed at http://www.slideshare.net/pvanhoesen/presentations. If you are seriously considering filing for this grant, I would say its mandatory to listen to the two Compliance briefings before filing.”

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