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Broadband Stimulus A No-Go For Big Carriers

AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications aren't expected to participate in the first round of government funding.

The first moment of truth for the Obama Administration's $4.7 billion grants to be awarded under the Broadband Stimulus Plan is scheduled for Friday, but don't look for the big broadband players to participate.

AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications aren't expected to participate, at least not in this first round, for a variety of reasons. The companies aren't talking publically, but acceptance of government funds could stymie the providers' stances in major issues such as net neutrality and executive compensation.

"We are concerned that some new mandates seem to go well beyond current laws and FCC rules, and may lead to the kind of continuing uncertainty and delay that is antithetical to the president's primary goals of economic stimulus and job creation," Walter McCormick, president of USTelecom, told the Washington Post. McCormick's trade group represents AT&T and Verizon.

Much of the stimulus drive is aimed at bringing broadband to unserved and underserved rural regions which are often shunned by broadband providers because of the expense of stringing cable to vast areas. Verizon, for instance, has been shedding some of its rural customers in Hawaii and northern New England and is moving to identify more rural regions for transfer of assets to other companies.

One company that has been working to help spread broadband in rural regions is ADTRAN, which has been educating and assisting Tier1, Tier2, and Tier 3 service providers as well as consulting engineering firms and municipalities on the finer points of filing for stimulus funding.

"While many vendors and service providers continue to debate over the means and methods of getting broadband to the masses, ADTRAN has been busy in Washington advocating on behalf of rural service providers and residents," the company said in a statement.

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