Tough Competition for Broadband Stimulus Money

The federal government is set to start handing out some $4 billion in an initial round of stimulus funding to expand broadband access to rural communities and under-served areas of the country. Another $3.2 billion is slated for a second round of funding next year.

According to a recent Associated Press report, so far about 2,200 applications, requesting some $28 billion in stimulus money, has come into the government's Commerce and Agriculture Departments.

The AP reviewed some of the applications, finding one from the Coeur d'Alene Indian tribe in Idaho, asking for $12.2 million to set up fiber optic lines to connect about 3,500 homes at one end of it rural reservation. The tribe has an existing wireless network that reaches less than half of the reservation.

Another request was submitted by Clearwire Corp., a WiMax provider, for $19.4 million to build a high-speed wireless network in some poor neighborhoods in Detroit that it might not otherwise serve.

And, in the mountains of North Carolina, the Mountain Area Information Network is requesting $2.5 million to extend its wireless network in Asheville, NC and several remote mountain communities.

It seems like the feds are going to have some tough choices on their hands.

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