At an oversight hearing conducted yesterday by the House communications, technology and Internet subcommittee, lawmakers took issue with various aspects of the broadband stimulus programs administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) called for rule changes that would bring additional funding to remote areas that, currently, are restricted from receiving RUS grants that cover 80% or more of a broadband project’s cost. Attended by NTIA Director Larry Strickling and RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, yesterday’s hearing came as both agencies begin their (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) administered by the RUS. Noting that many isolated communities in Appalachia that are situated only a few miles from a larger town would be ineligible to receive full broadband project funding under the BIP’s “remote area” restriction, Boucher told Adelstein that almost the entire eastern U.S. would be precluded from the higher-percentage grants under current BIP rules. Although applications rejected by the RUS may still be considered by the NTIA for BTOP funding, Boucher voiced concern that such applications might not be processed in an equal or timely manner if they are received by NTIA at a late stage in the review process. As Boucher recommended that the rules “at a minimum” should “enable applications to be acted upon at a higher level of funding” during the next application round, Adelstein told Boucher that his agency would consider changes to the “remote area” definition as he explained that the RUS “has been criticized in the past for being too urban . . . and that was the impetus for trying to force” funding to the most rural areas. Strickling promised that the NTIA would coordinate with the RUS to avoid rejections of applications that were considered initially for BIP funding.