• ■The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is seeking additional funding for oversight of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Currently, NTIA needs to seek either an additional appropriation from the lame-duck Congress in November, or seek to “reprogram” existing funding to support oversight of BTOP.

President Obama allocated $24 million for broadband oversight in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2011. The Senate Appropriations Committee has provided $16 million for oversight for BTOP in its appropriations bill for 2011, but Congress has not included these monies in its Continuing Resolution which is effective from October 1, 2010 to December 3, 2010. It is possible that Congress will approve another Continuing Resolution that will carry through early 2011 while it finalizes the appropriations.

Through the reprogramming process, NTIA can utilize existing funds for oversight of BTOP. This process would require approval from the Office of Management and Budget, as well as the Commerce Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. NTIA also has the option of using some of its administrative funding to task existing personnel with oversight of BTOP.

  • ■Citynet, LLC (Citynet), a West Virginia-based Internet Service Provider (ISP), is calling for NTIA to suspend the BTOP grant issued to the State of West Virginia until the state modifies its deployment plan. The State of West Virginia was allocated $126 million for construction of high-speed broadband infrastructure.

James Martin, President and CEO of Citynet, sent a letter on October 6, 2010, to both Earl Devaney of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and Lawrence Strickling of NTIA raising several shortcomings of West Virginia’s current plan, including:

  • The state’s initial application stated that it would benefit 700,000 residential and 110,000 business customers, but the current plan only benefits state agencies;
  • The plan does not address affordability for these types of services;
  • The plan does not create a middle-mile solution, but rather provides only for isolated fiber extensions to specified state agencies; and
  • The plan will not result in further economic development and job creation.

Martin requests that the grant be suspended until NTIA has a chance to review and analyze these issues, and asks that the State of West Virginia be required to respond to these items in an open forum. A copy of the letter may be found here.