Analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is casting doubt on the impact stimulus money for broadband deployments in rural areas will have on actual broadband deployments in the near term.
Under the House-passed bill, about $6 billion for broadband grants and loans is part of the some $800 billion stimulus package making its way through Congress. The package calls for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to distribute $2.8 billion in broadband grants with $1 billion going to wireless broadband. The Rural Utilities Service is expected to administer the remainder through its broadband loan program. The Senate is working on a $9-billion version that would include tax credits.
"CBO anticipates that funds provided to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to administer the broadband grant program would take longer to spend--seven years--because the new appropriations would far exceed the agency's 2009 funding of $17 million, and the legislation would require, in most circumstances, that grant recipients provide 20 percent of the project's cost from non-federal sources," the CBO stated in its cost estimate of the Senate economic recovery bill.
In its review of the House's stimulus legislation, the CBO projected that much of the $6 billion in broadband grants geared to underserved and unserved areas will be spent between 2012 and 2016.
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