Communities isolated by mountains, but geographically near populated areas don't qualify for federal stimulus funding.
Rural areas are slated to receive a lopsided amount of federal stimulus grants for broadband, but mountainous regions -- likewise short on broadband access -- are in danger of having grants withheld, according to a congressman conducting hearings on the issue this week.
Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, noted that in mountainous areas of his West Virginia home state, grant funding can be withheld because communities are near cities, even though they are cut off from easy broadband access by mountains. Boucher is conducting a hearing Friday on oversight of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act involving broadband access.
"For communities with small populations that are isolated by mountains, the cost of building broadband can be great," Boucher said in a statement prepared for Friday's hearing, "And with populations as few as 100 homes, that cost can't be recovered through the revenues to be realized from the broadband service."
Noting that the Appalachian region contains hundreds of communities that are isolated primarily by mountains, Boucher said they often don't qualify for federal stimulus funding because they are located within 50 miles of a city of at least 20,000 " a situation that can exclude communities from receiving federal funding for broadband access.
Under the current stimulus guidelines, Boucher said "almost the entire Eastern U.S." is disqualified from receiving grant monies.
Boucher also complained that the funding application process for rural applicants is too time-consuming, requiring applicants to first pass muster at the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and, if they are rejected there, to seek approval at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA.)
Requests for grants and loans totaling some $28 billion have been submitted for $7.2 billion earmarked for broadband access. The first group of winners is expected to be announced in November.
InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on setting government IT priorities. Download the report here (registration required).
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial ServicesIT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of September 18, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."