Just think of it as match.com for broadband applicants.
The National Telecommunications & Information
Administration and the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service have
unveiled an online tool, BroadbandMatch to help match up potential partners in broadband rollout projects.
The agencies are teaming to hand out over $7 billion in
broadband stimulus funds. While the first round of bidders is already in the
can and winners are being announced over the next several weeks, the second
round has yet to start.
For that round, bidders will be able to go to the Web site
to find partners for project. Say, an infrastructure company might hook up with
a school, library or hospital--all anchor institutions getting special
consideration for money.
Anybody looking to bid can post their profiles
online--though the idea is to post attractive features like how much money they
are willing to kick in rather than eye color or favorite band.
"In the first funding round, many applicants wanted to form
partnerships but didn't know how best to locate other organizations with
similar aims and complementary resources," said NTIA Administrator Larry
Strickling in announcing the online effort. "BroadbandMatch is a tool to help
stakeholders collaborate, which can spur the highest caliber, most effective
proposals for this crucial Recovery Act funding."
NTIA has promised to take steps to improve the bidding
process easier after criticisms from industry, public advocacy groups, Congress
and the Government Accountability Office.