More areas will be eligible for stimulus grants, as the RUS addresses a complaint made by several people including the influential Rick Boucher (D-VA).
The definition of broadband is 768 / 200 Kbps but there is also a definition of high speed, which is 5 Mbps symmetrical. Any area without high speed service can be underserved, which opens up a large portion of the country to grants. “RUS has determined that rural areas without service at 5 Mbps (upstream and downstream combined) lack high speed broadband service sufficient to facilitate rural economic development as required by the Recovery Act,” the notice said.
Furthermore, the language that Boucher complained about, which said that underserved areas had to be a certain number of miles from an urban area, is also not present.
Instead, the RUS now defines a rural area as “any area, as confirmed by the latest decennial census of the Bureau of the Census, which is not located within: (1) a city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or (2) an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. For purposes of the definition of rural area, an urbanized area means a densely populated territory as defined in the latest decennial census of the Bureau of the Census.”