NOFA 2 – It Does Matter How You Say It

I listened to the NTIA/RUS workshop in Denver as these folks spelled out what makes for a good grant application, interpreted rules, etc. My ears perked up when they started on why projects got rejected. Specifically, when they explained that, for apps to get graded well in the Purpose (of the proposed network) category, “you have to be compelling, credible and clear.”

There have been some bitter and justifiable commentary about the first funding round, it’s lack of transparency in key areas and the lack of feedback throughout the process. I’ll add my 2 cents on this, but since the agencies gave some specific feedback, albeit in a general audience rather than to specific applicants, I want to jump on the key lessons.  

Months ago I wrote a column on how vital it is for you to write a really outstanding mission statement and executive summary. I believe readers thought I was loony giving them writing tips while they were trying to sort out engineering issues, 122-pages of hell and other seemingly more important issues.

Listen up folks! This is important. Today’s workshop spent significant time relating how reviewers rejected apps right off the bat – before due diligence – because of what was said, not said or how it was said. I point you later to a document with advice you probably want to heed. But first, a summary from the people who hold you future in their hands about what can kill your good, even great, idea for a network.

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Eliminate Weeks from Your NOFA 2 Prep Time!

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Some of you have followed my blog for months and know I’m pretty spot-on with my assessment of the broadband stimulus terrain, and broadband strategy in general. I bring this expertise to my evaluations of the few 3rd-party services I select to complement mine. Here are two that pass the test.

Eliminate weeks of the most time consuming and tedious work needed to complete the roughest part of the NOFA application with ID Insight and RidgeviewTel services. These services also increase the accuracy and impact of your application plus help you build a sustainable broadband network after you receive funding.

ID Insight’s BroadBand ScoutSM pulls details from millions of online retail transactions nationwide to enable you to determine broadband penetration down to the census block on connection type (broadband, dsl, cable, dial-up, etc.), data speeds and carriers. Give us the names of counties in your proposed service area, and we deliver the data for you to create or verify broadband coverage maps.

RidgeviewTel adds your BroadBand Scout data to their dBOSS Broadband Network Management Platform to:

  • aggregate the majority of necessary data NOFA 2 requires; 
  • format the data for GIS systems to visually render locations on a map;
  • apply the data through imaging and layering of the various data to create maps of broadband usage, unserved areas, RF propagation and the number of potential customers per mile for fiber networks; and
  • return the NOFA-required data to you in the formats needed to upload these files directly to NTIA’s and RUS’ NOFA application servers

Successful.com facilitates the logistics between you and both companies, provides valuable analysis services if needed and ensures that everything is in order when you submit your application. You can purchase our services together or a la carte.

E-mail or call us today (510-536-4522) for more details. March 15 isn’t that far away.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money

Morning folks.

NTIA just announced another batch of lucky broadband stimulus winners. Check it out!

I’ll have analysis at midnight. My new book should be available for order this Friday. My publisher and I are frantically trying to get this into your hands to help with your broadband planning and grant application.

Stay tuned.

Handicapping NOFA 2

The good news is that the new NOFA rules are out. The bad news, if you have Attention Deficit Disorder, is that there are two of them and each one seems as long as the first NOFA rules. But at least there are welcome changes. Here’s an overview and a look at who does well as a result of these. 

First, I think it’s wise to let each group have its own rules. Many of the frustration people have had with the NOFA, Round 1 stem from the rules being a quick blending of procedures from agencies with two different purposes and ways of doing business. That led to the rules contradicting each other in places, or otherwise breeding confusion.

In terms of focus, NTIA is addressing middle mile primarily and this makes sense because it gives NTIA a bigger bang for their buck, allowing them to bring broadband to large geographical areas through each award. Rather than spend time reviewing 30 proposals for $1 million each, better to review one proposal for $30 million. There’s less administrative hassle on the backend where NTIA has to manage each funded project to completion.

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Taking Action on the New NOFA Rules

Welcome to NOFA 2 and the 60-day march through hell (for some) to $4 billion. After Friday afternoon’s sudden delivery of the preliminary set of NOFA rules, I made the comment that it is good that the agencies are going their separate ways. Trying to keep the NTIA/RUS marriage together for the sake of the kids didn’t make sense

Then I looked at draft of the NOFA for NTIA and RUS. That’s nearly 200 pages! My brain glazed over. No wonder they waited until Friday before a 3-day weekend! Then at midnight, I got an e-mail from the New America Foundation with incredibly thorough summaries of NOFA 2 highlighting changes from NOFA 1 and other valuable details condensed into 85% fewer pages. Read the summaries before the actual NOFAs.

Heartfelt thanks to New America are very much in order from all of us trying to slog through all this info. Dudes and dudettes – thank you!!

For my part, since New America breaks down what NOFA 2 is all about, I’m giving you some tips on what to do about these rules so you can get a good proposal across the finish line. There’s barely two months to the March 15 deadline for your proposal, so I’m not prettying this post up. This train’s leaving the station. You can complain to the Fed’s conductors later about whatever injustices you spot.  

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Top 10 Prescriptions for Getting Broadband Done

Every January, analysts, bloggers and other random industry luminaries write a list of predictions for the new year. Good way to get a little visibility. If you write really well, you could sound like the original Oracle of Delphi (or Oracle of Delphia if you come from Philly).

I decided, heck with that game. I’m going to draw from observations over the past year and give you in the broadband trenches the Top 10 (IMHO) prescriptions for getting stuff done in 2010. Wanna prediction of the future? Then go make the future happen. 

1. Live in a parallel universe.

All you folks with stimulus proposals in the D.C. hopper, those waiting for Round 2, develop (and act on) the best plan you can write for getting broadband without one dollar of stimulus. I told you in March, all of you aren’t winning the brass ring! 

An applicant just e-mailed me that they think they’re close to stimulus payday. They had a serious plan for broadband a year before they had a plan for stimulus. Planning well for the former is why the team may win the latter. Of course, with the current rate of grant traffic, your parallel plan probably will pay off sooner. I’m just saying. 

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