Archive for the ‘Stimulus’ Category.

Texas Recommends Most Applications

Like many large states, Texas had to examine a very large number of applications. It seems, however, that the state did as little ranking as possible, merely providing a list of applications that “were deemed to have a potentially positive impact on the state of Texas” according to the state’s letter, here (.pdf) taken from the Baller Herbst website.

No surprise that one of the state’s largest WISPs, ERF Wireless, has an approved application on the list, even though it covers several states, but I was surprised to see Hughes’ (heavily redacted) application on the list as I think that satellite can do little for anyone.

There are clearly numerous good applications in the state of Texas. Many towns filed public computer center applications, and some of the state’s universities also applied for funds.

One of the state’s other large WISPs, Internet America, submitted an application covering 35 counties that is on the state’s list.

Still, I think that the state of Texas could have done something to grade or rank the applications, instead of providing a long list of those that met some very low expectations.

South Carolina Recommends Most, But Not All

Governor Mark Sanford (R) of South Carolina is not likely to be in office for round two of the stimulus, given the scandal and subsequent divorce. Still, the review process in South Carolina may be the same. The letter (.pdf) is taken from the Baller Herbst Law Group website.

The governor appears to have recommended most of the applications for the state, except (unless it’s in the letter under a different name) the Elauwit project which would provide free fixed wireless broadband to public housing for three years, and at a discount thereafter.

All four applications from CLEC FTC Divsersified Services, on the other hand, were approved. Here’s a typical one.

I was particularly surprised to see Connected Nation’s South Carolina education project recommended and to see Maryland-based satellite provider Knight Sky on the list.

Although South Carolina appears to have done less work than other states, given the circumstances, I think it’s understandable and I’m sure South Carolina will do more in round two.

Pennsylvania Recommends Most of the State’s Own Applications

I’m not saying that it’s wrong for a state to recommend its own applications, but it is unusual. Of the 13 “highly recommended” projects in the letter (available here in .pdf format from the Baller Herbst Law Group), 9 were submitted by state agencies, by univiersities, and by public libraries.

An additional 12 applications, including one from DigitalBridge, are on a list of “supported” projects.

The Executive Office of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Office of Administration) submitted four applications worth over $100 million. If accepted, those applications alone could use up most of the funds available for the state. I was surprised to see that two are highly recommended and one is on the supported list.

Muni-Link from CONXX is one from an ISP that I know that did not make the list.

Zito Media, a company I do not know, had one project on the highly recommended list and two on the supported list.

Overall, I think that the state’s task force should be commended for making some tough choices.

Oregon Provides Details on Process

The letter from the state of Oregon (available here in .pdf form from the Baller Herbst Law Group) is excellent because it provides the biographies of the state reviewers and lists both pros and cons concerning all recommended projects.

I understand that some larger states did not have time to provide the level of detail that Oregon did, but I nevertheless feel that Oregon’s letter could serve as a model to the nation on how to get it right.

I also understand that it can be politically difficult to voice any criticism concerning local applications, and I therefore believe that Oregon deserves all the more credit for describing both the upside and the downside of so many applications. Continue reading ‘Oregon Provides Details on Process’ »

Ohio Recommends Large Applications

One of my fears regarding the stimulus is that small applicants will be left out of the process. This appears to have happened in Ohio, which is one of the largest states and also one of the most demographically and geographically diverse.

Ohio’s governor faced Alaska’s dilemma in miniature: a large number of worthy projects over a large land area with not enough cash to fund them all. Continue reading ‘Ohio Recommends Large Applications’ »

Nevada Supports Satellite and Connected Nation

The Nevada Broadband Task Force recommended (.pdf from Baller Herbst Law Group) a large number of projects but should be commended for ranking them all.

At the top of the list, the task force placed two public computer projects (about $4 million to $6 million each) which seem to me to be very worthwhile. Detailed information is available for one of them.

I was surprised to see the projects of Hughes and EchoStar recommended so highly. Unless they can reach parts of the state that nobody else can — this is possible — I see no reason for the deployment of satellite when better technologies are available.

Continue reading ‘Nevada Supports Satellite and Connected Nation’ »

Connected Nation Wins Kansas and Alaska

Connected Nation, the telco-allied non-profit that wrote the mapping part of the broadband bill, won bids in Alaska and Kansas, it announced.

Art Brodsky has been warning about this outfit for years now, and we’ll get to see whether or not Connected Nation actually produces worthwhile data. It’s particularly sad that Alaska gave away its mapping oppotunity because the broadband stimulus faces special challenges there. An accurate map would reveal a wide variety of unusual technological alternatives in place there, but I’m guessing that Connected Nation will just show that most of Alaska already has broadband.

Brodsky points out that $350 million may be too much. I’m guessing that it could be 100 times the cost or even 10,000 times the cost, but the mapping project I’m thinking of won’t issue its press release until Dec. 6. I will update you then.

Most states (Delaware, Colorado, Louisiana, and so on) that have received mapping money from the NTIA are sending the cash to their own departments of technology. If in fact they get 100 times what they need for the project, the rest of the cash can be put to good use by upgrading the states’ own technology departments.

Montana Aims to Serve Native Americans

The state of Montana asked applications to answer some questions of its own in addition to the federal grant application process, and only 14 responded.

Of the fourteen, Montana recommends first (in the letter obtained from the Baller Herbst Law Group website) Bresnan Communications, which has been working with the state since 2005. The Purchase, N.Y.-based organization filed a redacted application for $70 million. It is not clear how many people will be served by this project, but the state says that it serves all seven of Montana’s Indian Reservations and that all seven tribal councils support it.

For the other 13 projects in the state, governor Brian Schweitzer (D) refused to make any decisions. I think this was a bad idea, unless Schweitzer feels that all available cash will be consumed by the Bresnan Communications project.

The State of Mississippi Endorses DigitalBridge

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) endorsed just a few projects (letter available from the Baller Herbst Law GrouP), including the state’s own sustainable adoption project.

Surprisingly, the state endorsed some DigitalBridge Communications projects. The Ashburn, Va.-based firm filed 64 applications across several midwestern and sourthern states.

I am particularly impressed that Barbour chose not to endorse the largest project in his state, a $250 million project filed by the Mississippi Valley State University. However, it is a historically black college or university (HBCU) and it serves one of the poorest areas of this nation. The project appears to have asked for too much money, but perhaps in the next round, a smaller but similar project will go forward.

Michigan Recommends 21 Projects

While Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm (D) recommended 21 projects, one stood out for me: Merit Network’s middle mile project.

Merit Network is the innovative group behind opencalea and other open source projects that have been helpful to ISPs and small businesses. Merit’s $42 million project, $18 million grant, $18 million loan, and the rest contributed (partly in kind), consists of almost one thousand mile of 72-strand fiber. Merit is working with several local partners in different areas of the state. Merit’s application came with 70 letters of support and Merit notes that it has a history of bringing diverse organizations together. I strongly support Merit’s application, one of the projects the governor recommended.

Continue reading ‘Michigan Recommends 21 Projects’ »