As you probably know, the Notice of Funds Availability came out today for the BTOP and BIP (sounds like a kid's cartoon show...) billions. It was an interesting first read, mostly to figure out how they defined the key criteria.
Broadband is defined as 768 Kbps down and 200 Kbps up. The good news is that, with limited funds, this really keeps the focus on areas that really have crappy service, if any. The bad news is that providers can bid this unbelievably lousy service level and "comply" with criteria. The only hope we have is that there will be enough folks that bid higher speed levels than those who want to bid the slower ones and the slow ones won't get funded. Keep your fingers crossed.
The BIP has more definitive evaluation criteria than the BTOP. Kudos to the BIPpers.
Cost-effectiveness for the BTOP local loop projects is based on the ratio of the total cost of the project to households passed. That just seems dumb. Lots of cities with urban density will be very happy to see that.
The money chunks (available funds) are oddly constructed. It's not very clear why. The BIPpers have made all of their $2.4B available, chunked out as $1.2B for last mile projects -- remote or non-remote areas. Middle mile projects are alloted $.8B. The BTOPers set aside $1.6B in this round out of their $4.3B. $1.2B goes to infrastructure but only $50M to public computer centers and $150M to sustainable broadband adoption in this round. Kinda cheesy.
Underserved and unserved definitions require more study and a deep knowledge of Census blocks, last calculated in 2000. There is also a strange and weird condition of funding where after an organization has jumped through all the stage 1 and 2 hoops, the BIPpers and BTOPers will post their planned awards so the masses can object to funding if there is already service in the area awarded. This needs much further cogitation and I can see a potential of some very bad outcomes due to this rule.
It was good to see the 4 FCC principles and the rules for open networks. But, overall, it seems like a wimpy start to a national broadband plan. Seriously, 200 Kbps upload reminds me of some of the lyrics in Boom Boom Pow: "I'm so 3008,You so 2000 and late."