Middle-mile muscles out last-mile spending in US broadband stimulus

Date: March 23, 2010
Pages: 10
US$ 895.00
Publisher: Ovum
Report type: Strategic Report
Delivery: E-mail Delivery (PDF)
ID: M50C4303F59EN

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Middle-mile muscles out last-mile spending in US broadband stimulus
As we wait for the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan on 17 March 2010, we have already begun to see the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) shift its bias to “middle-mile” projects rather than last-mile (access) projects for awarding the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), however, continues to fund last-mile access projects albeit with a smaller pot. Ovum believes the National Broadband Plan will include an ambitious, long-term follow-on effort to upgrade last-mile access everywhere, but particularly in unserved and underserved areas that receive money from the Universal Service Fund. There is plenty more spending to come, especially on fiber rollouts, but optical transport vendors stand to gain a bigger piece of the pie than access vendors in the immediate future.
Executive summary
In a nutshell
Ovum view
NTIA to prioritize middle-mile fiber rollouts in both rounds
Initial RUS awards involving multiple rural FTTH rollouts should continue
The multiplier effect
Optical network vendors to benefit
Ambitious National Broadband Plan to be unveiled in March
Additional funding for fiber rollouts is good, but the devil is in the details
First-round awards ongoing
More wireline than wireless broadband
Second-round window opens
All funds still expected to be awarded by September 2010
Changes for the second round of funding
Simpler and more focused application process
NTIA to focus on middle-mile broadband infrastructure
Last-mile components within projects get lower priority than NTIA middle-mile components
Why the focus on the middle mile and community anchor institutions?
RUS funding to focus on last-mile builds
RUS removes non-remote funding restrictions
Other changes in the second round
Separate and simpler application procedures; revision and clarification of eligibility criteria and waivers
Removal of unserved and underserved area requirement by NTIA
Factors in the application and selection process
Open access and network neutrality issues will apply, but managed services will be allowed
Transparency will be maintained through strict reporting requirements
The Buy America constraint can be avoided with a waiver
Creative matching tool should help applicants with limited resources
Clarification of sale of broadband assets is likely to draw additional interest
Still few awards announced as the FCC and agencies struggle to digest information and identify gaps
Additional Ovum reports


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