WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2022 — With the Middle Mile grant application deadline three weeks away, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has hosted six of 12 “office hours” question and answer sessions.
Some of the issues raised by potential applicants during these sessions include the use of in-kind contributions, the role of Federal Communications Commission Form 477 in demonstrating broadband availability and speeds, the role anchor institutions in mid-mile projects and addressing concerns regarding required letter of credit.
During a Broadband Breakfast Live online webcast on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at noon ET, Sarah Bleau, middle mile program director at NTIA, will headline a discussion on “Evaluating the Middle Mile Grant Application Process”.
Broadband Breakfast September 7, 2022 – Evaluation of the NTIA Middle Mile Grant Application Process
With $1 billion in funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Interim Program is among the smallest broadband funding measures offered by the NTIA. But with a September 30 deadline, it’s one of the first programs available for award.
Unlike NTIA’s last mile broadband programs or state digital equity grants, Middle Mile grants are open to individual companies and institutions that apply. The NTIA will receive applicants directly. NTIA officials answered these questions in “office hours” sessions held most Tuesdays and Thursdays. See information on the 12 “office hours” sessions.
Role of FCC Form 477
During a discussion of “office hours,” NTIA officials explained how candidates can use evidence from underrepresented and unrepresented people by leveraging broadband data available through the form. 477 of the FCC.
FCC Form 477 has been heavily criticized and is heading for an overhaul. On Friday, FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel said the agency is targeting November to release the first draft of its new broadband card.
Rosenworcel, which previously said the card is expected to be released this fall, said in an FCC memo that it had completed the first filing window for submitting “extensive location-by-location data” on broadband availability, after the service providers have been required. by the agency to submit this data by September 1 – the day before the release of the note.
But since this new broadband data won’t be available until after the September 30 grant deadline, panelists and “office hours” presenters discussed how existing broadband data can at least provide based on locations and broadband speeds provided at particular locations.
This can help applicants visualize broadband availability. And speaking at one of the seances, Alec McDonell, a specialist in telecommunications systems at the FCC, highlighted the Urban Rate Survey. This is a report released annually by the FCC that compiles price data for fixed voice and broadband services offered to consumers in urban areas.
In addition, MacDonell and other “Office Hours” participants said applicants to the Mid-Mile grant program should pay particular attention to the role that anchor institutions — typically universities, schools, and libraries – play in planning the implementation of intermediate kilometer subsidies. .
Letter of credit and no last mile funds
During several “office hours” sessions over the past three weeks, Sarah Bleau, director of the Middle Mile program at the NTIA, reminded participants that this program is for middle mile scholarships only. Last mile projects will not be considered and are not eligible for funds.
Addressing the controversies over the required letter of credit, Bleau said the letter is issued as a guarantee of payment. financial transactions between two separate parties, usually taking no risk in the process.
“It’s not so much about protecting the money as helping to identify and do a risk assessment,” Bleau said.