Public Interest Groups Ask Strong Federal Role in Choosing Broadband Stimulus GrantsApril 7, 2009
The Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) today recommended that the Federal government have primary responsibility for determine which organizations will receive grants for high-speed Internet (broadband) projects. The text of the comments is here:
In a filing with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the group said, “the role of states in the grant and loan selection process be limited, so as to preserve transparency and reduce delay in the grant allocation process.” Although the agency shouldn't delegate authority to the states or allow states to rank projects, PISC said there still could be a role for states in helping to determine selection criteria and for projects that cross state lines.
The group also recommended that NTIA set aside $25 million of grant funds to be reserved for “small entities.”
In its filing, PISC also recommended:
That the grant selection criteria echo the guiding principles of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), by prioritizing projects that hold the greatest potential to meaningfully affect the impact of broadband in unserved and underserved communities, projects that promote the deployment of infrastructure that will remain viable in the long-term and projects proposed by entities that serve the public interest.
That investments in broadband mapping promote a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the state, deployment and potential of broadband services in the United States, by collecting and displaying data regarding the speed, price and availability of wired and wireless broadband services, in addition to information about the availability and use of public spectrum and broadband infrastructure and the success and impact of the BTOP broadband initiatives.
That the NTIA enforce conditions that require grantees to operate networks that are open, interconnected and nondiscriminatory, so as to ensure the long-term viability of taxpayer-funded networks.
The PISC is made up of The CUWiN Foundation, Common Cause, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, The Open Source Wireless Coalition and U.S. PIRG.