Interview with Jonathan Adelstein on New $700 Million Broadband Program

The USDA’s Rural Utilities Services (RUS) recently announced they’re hoping to make $700 million available for broadband projects through the agency’s Farm Bill Broadband Program. While not as substantial as the BIP program, nevertheless this is a sizeable enough payload to make a big difference in a fair number of communities. However, the actual money hasn’t been appropriated yet, so RUS is doing a Notice of Solicitations of Applications (NOSA). NOSA = send us an application to hold your place in the queue so you get money when we get money.

This is strictly a loan program, no grants involved. Big plus – it’s open to everyone including communities and public private partnerships. Other good news is that the baseline for what constitutes broadband is 5 Mbps symmetrical for wireline networks, and 3 Mbps symmetrical for wireless. You can read details on the program here.

I caught up with RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein by phone to ask a few questions and get some additional insights into RUS’ latest efforts to bring broadband to unnerved communities. There are a couple of key differences between this and the BIP program, plus useful information to help you get a handle on how to approach the loan process. I’ll have my own analysis here tomorrow.

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Day 30 – N. Carolina Broadband Battle of Inches Shifts Momentum

I coach two adult women’s soccer teams because, well, heaven knows I don’t have enough to occupy my time. Like many coaches, I appreciate our Hollywood counterparts’ inspirational speeches that make eyes misty and lower lips quiver, like this one by Al Pacino.

Though the analogies don’t quite line up as well for soccer, I think Al’s sermon is fitting for the North Carolina broadband fight. This has been a battle that communities are are showing signs of winning inch by inch, and those inches will (hopefully) become yards and eventual victory as communities continue to rally against Time Warner and State Assembly bill H129. Broadband advocates in states that may face similar incumbent attempts to snuff out community networks should take note.

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Day 18 – The Battle for N. Carolina Broadband Rolls On

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then this one of Time Warner’s favorite pocket legislator, Rep. Marilyn Avila, with Time Warners lobbyists of the hour, Brad Phillips and Marc Trathen (r), says it all about broadband’s shaky future in North Carolina. If North Carolina goes to bed next Thursday night with We the People having taken another severe body blow by unfettered corporate influence, then they can thank these Three Musketeers and their “all-for-one-corporation” single-minded myopia.

Best we fight like hell to turn the tide of this battle against House Bill 129. The past week and a half has been non-stop pushback in this David and Goliath battle between communities that want the freedom to choose their own best broadband solutions, and Time Warner who cares less than a whit about what the market wants.

I can understand sometimes why one of my Twitter followers asked, why don’t we just buy legislators jackets like the race car drivers wear with patches for the corporations they front for? But I believe that, luckily, there are plenty of legislators on both sides of the aisle who are reasonable human beings who take their jobs as representatives of the people seriously.

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