NOFA defines 'broadband' for stimulus funding

JULY 2, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- The definition will likely disappoint those hoping the bar would be set high.

JULY 2, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- Besides describing the procedures for applying for broadband stimulus funding and how such proposals will be evaluated, the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) finally defined a few key terms. The definition of "broadband" will likely disappoint those hoping the bar would be set high.

For the purposes of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Rural Utilities Service's Broadband Initiatives Program, 768 kbps downstream and at least 200 kbps upstream -- or providing enough capacity in a middle mile project to support such speeds -- will be close enough for government work.

Meanwhile, "middle mile" -- which received significant attention in the Federal Communications Commission's recently released report on rural broadband -- is defined as a "broadband infrastructure project that does not predominantly provide broadband service to end users or to end-user devices, and may include interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, or special access."

Other terms of interest include:


  • Remote area: an unserved, rural area 50 miles from the limits of a non-rural area.
  • Rural area: any area, as confirmed by the latest decennial census of the Bureau of the Census, that is not located within a city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants.
  • Underserved last mile: at least one of the following factors must be met, though the presumption will be that more than one factor is present. 1. No more than 50 percent of the households in the proposed funded service area have access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service at greater than the minimum broadband transmission speed. 2. No fixed or mobile broadband service provider advertises broadband transmission speeds of at least 3 Mbps downstream in the proposed funded service area. 3. The rate of broadband subscribership for the proposed funded service area is 40 percent of households or less.
  • Underserved middle mile: an area where one interconnection point terminates in a proposed funded service area that qualifies as unserved or underserved for last-mile projects.
  • Unserved area means a proposed funded service area, composed of one or more contiguous census blocks, where at least 90 percent of households in the proposed funded service area lack access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service, either fixed or mobile, at the minimum transmission speed defined as "broadband." A household has access to broadband service if the household can readily subscribe to that service upon request.
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