The cable industry has an ally in Free Press in its effort to ensure that the broadband portions of the economic stimulus package are targeted to unserved areas and are coordinated under one agency.
In a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott said they support the Senate bill's placing of broadband grants administration under the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. That is in contrast to the just-passed House version of the stimulus package, which divides that authority between NTIA and the Department of Agriculture (many unserved areas are rural).
"By selecting NTIA to coordinate and administer the distribution of grant funds," the two wrote, "the bill correctly recognizes the value of this agency’s expertise in communications matters and avoids the potential confusion and inconsistencies that might result were the program split among multiple agencies."
They also argue that the broandband stimulus grants should be targetted to "construction of robust facilities in unserved areas." The House would grant much of the money to "underserved" areas.
They also argue that private broadband providers should be able to apply for government grants individually as well as in partnership with local and state governments.