With broadband stimulus approaching, N.Y. reviews application requirements

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides for nearly $7 billion in broadband expansion. Money for expanded public access, expanded technological development and expanded use of broadband will begin to roll out in less than four months.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a timeline for the first round of broadband stimulus funding. On July, 1, the NTIA issued the first Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for broadband grants to be released this November. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program will issue approximately $4 billion in the first of three funding rounds.

In an effort to look at all the pieces on the board, agency leaders from the Paterson administration convened a meeting with community leaders, educational administrators, not-for-profits, and broadband providers to review current funding opportunities for broadband outlined in the NOFA.

“The Paterson administration recognizes we must take every opportunity to maximize federal stimulus funding opportunities to expand broadband in both urban and rural areas. We are making every effort to ensure applicants understand the guidelines and eligibility requirements, and critical timelines for applying for broadband stimulus funds,” Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York State Chief Information Officer and Director of the Office for Technology (OFT), said during the meeting.

drstewart-cio-oftThe information session, hosted by OFT, the Governor’s Economic Recovery Office, the New York State Public Service Commission, and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation, outlined the finer points of the NOFA and stressed the importance of adhering to the guidelines provided. “I encourage each of you to read the NOFA, monitor the NYS Broadband Stimulus and federal stimulus websites, attend webinars, and most importantly be certain you have a quality assurance program in place so your applications are not delayed or rejected,” Sharon Cates-Williams, deputy CIO for OFT, said.

Among one of the key issues discussed regarding the NOFA and the state’s pre-existing universal broadband initiative was the state’s mapping status. The New York State Universal Broadband Strategy was initiated to map existing wired broadband availability, as well as help to understand where the unserved and underserved areas remain across the state. During the information session, William Johnson, Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for the Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination, provided an update on the mapping project.

“Comprehensive mapping is essential in prioritizing stimulus funding. The statewide mapping initiative is a fluid process and we will continue to revise the broadband coverage and availability maps to reflect updates made by county leaders and service providers,” Mr. Johnson said. “We are at the forefront of this initiative.”

For the state of New York, broadband stimulus money would bolster programs and initiatives already in place, giving the state an advantage when applying for grants, if done properly. For many of those in attendence, these funds represent the future of New York’s workforce and economic well-being.

“Using federal stimulus funds for New York State will accelerate our economic recovery. County leaders remain committed to harness the potential of broadband technology,” Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said.

“Using these funds for job creation and enhancing law enforcement public safety answering points will help grow local economies and also protect the public.”

To read more about what New York is doing with Broadband, visit New York State’s Broadband Federal Stimulus Website

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