Community Broadband – Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress set aside $7.2 billion to be used for expanding broadband availability and demand. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is designed to expand broadband access to those who do not have it, either because they are underserved or unserved [terms that were yet to be defined by the FCC and NTIA]. Additionally, some of the funds were marked to be used for educational purposes, such as training and support.

The statute earmarked this money for the following applicants:

(1)(A) be a State or political subdivision thereof, the         District of Columbia, a territory or possession of the United         States, an Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian         Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C.         450(b)) or native Hawaiian organization;

                    (B) a nonprofit--                          (i) foundation,                          (ii) corporation,                          (iii) institution, or                          (iv) association; or                    (C) any other entity, including a broadband service                 or infrastructure provider, that the Assistant Secretary                 finds by rule to be in the public interest. In                 establishing such rule, the Assistant Secretary shall to                 the extent practicable promote the purposes of this                 section in a technologically neutral manner;

The wording specifically privileges public entities and nonprofits – groups that put the public good and community need ahead of profit. Existing private providers must be found to be in the public interest in order to receive grant money.

Nonprofits and public entities should be prioritized with public money because they are accountable to the community. Municipalities, nonprofit groups, and public utilities have already built some of the fastest community networks in the country, they also keep prices affordable and reinvest net income back into the community.

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