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Adelstein NATOA Remarks - 10-01-2010

Adelstein NATOA Remarks - 10-01-2010

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Published by: StimulatingBroadband.com on Oct 08, 2010
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10/08/2010

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 NATOA Remarks | October 1, 2010Good afternoon!First of all: Happy Fiscal New Year! This is the happiest one I have ever experienced, becauseit means we have successfully completed the award phase of the RUS Broadband InitiativesProgram (BIP) funded under the Recovery Act.It is great to see so many friendly faces here.It¶s been awhile since I have spoken with this you, so I am thrilled to be back. From my days atthe FCC, to my new role at RUS, NATOA continues to be a great advocate for bringingadvanced telecommunications technology to rural communities across the country.And it is an honor to be here with Phil Weiser, a long-time friend of mine and someone whoknows this industry inside and out. He literally wrote the book on telecommunications. We arefortunate to have a telecommunications expert like him at the White House.It is a pleasure to serve with Phil under this Administration which puts broadband expansion atthe top of its agenda.At RUS, I have seen that commitment first hand, from Secretary Vilsack on down. He has made broadband the indispensible first pillar of his agenda to revitalize rural America.And as you all know, there is intense interest in how we are carrying out the RecoveryBroadband program at the highest levels of the White House ± from the President, the VicePresident to the very top White House officials. It is a signature program in the Recovery Actfor the President. Early on, as it took time to set up the new program, I learned in a visit with VPBiden that President Obama was asking him every week or two about progress on the broadband program.At Rural Development and RUS, we view the most advanced broadband infrastructure as afundamental pillar of sustainable economic development for every rural American.As of today, we have planted that pillar firmly into the soil of rural America. We have wrappedup our final round of Recovery Act rural broadband awards in a massive effort that matches our successful legacy in rural electrification. Under our second round of funding, in less than half the time of the first round, we have awarded nearly 4 times as many projects.And by leveraging our funding to provide loans as well as grants, we¶ve been able to stretch our $2.5 billion appropriation from Congress to over $3.5 billion dollars.To be exact, I¶m pleased to report that RUS has made 320 awards for $3.529 billion. The bulk of that ± 286 awards for $3.26 billion ± were for last mile infrastructure awards, the focus of our 
 
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 program and reflecting the expertise RUS has developed over the past 60 years of connectingrural homes, businesses and community facilities to telecommunications networks.But we also had a substantial Middle Mile component, making 12 awards for $172 million. Ontop of that, we made four satellite awards for $100 million, and 19 technical assistance awards todevelop regional broadband plans for over $3 million.All told, we expect these projects will connect well over 6 million people to state of the art broadband in 46 states and territories. And it will serve over 350,000 businesses, along withover 30,000 community anchor institutions.We have targeted these projects to the most rural areas in the country, and low-income areas.We are reaching 125 counties with persistent poverty ± 31% of all persistent poverty counties inthe U.S.!And you at NATOA will be especially pleased to know that among our awardees, 13 are publicsector entities like municipalities. They received $332 million, or nearly 10% of our awards.In terms of technology, these awards represent the array of options available ± from fiber tocable coax, even broadband over power line -- to wireless, from Wimax to LTE - and a widevariety of players. More than half of them will deploy fiber-based systems. And over a third of these projects have a wireless component.I know that, as leaders in your respective communities across the country, each and every one of you is committed to serving your communities by providing high-speed broadband access. By building out these networks, you are strengthening our nation¶s economy and, ultimately, itslong-term growth.I have heard time and again from local leaders that when businesses are considering locating inrural communities, the first question they ask is: is broadband available here? If the answer isno, the businesses move on elsewhere. And for rural residents, who want to start new businesseswhere they live, they need to have broadband or they will be forced to move to where it isavailable.These projects will create tens of thousands of jobs in building out the networks. And once theyare built, they will provide the platform for continued job creation and economic developmentfor years to come.In terms of municipalities, I was honored recently to visit the Reedsburg Utility Commission inWisconsin. It is truly a visionary town that has pushed the envelope to provide the best in allutility services, including broadband, to its residents. Our $5.2 million award permitted them toreach beyond the town to the rural areas outside of it. The design extends an existing municipalFiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network operated by City of Reedsburg, acting through ReedsburgUtility Commission, to the surrounding rural area. It will provide affordable advanced
 
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 broadband service to residents and businesses that are currently confined to traditional dial-up,unreliable wireless, and costly satellite services. This rural area of southwestern portion of Wisconsin has been well documented as lacking broadband services due to the hilly terrain andnumerous valleys which severely limits wireless and satellite service coverage.We are seeing great diversity in the types of entities funded and the technologies to be used indeploying these networks. For example, several of our RUS electric co-ops have entered the broadband fray to offer their members advanced broadband services. A few weeks ago inMoriarty, NM, I announced a $63 award to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative to build out a broadband-enabled smart grid network to serve thousands of households, schools and communityfacilities in northern New Mexico which is home to many chronically poor communities. Think about the transformative potential for these communities once they are wired with broadband.This new infrastructure can propel these rural towns forward by facilitating greater educationaland healthcare opportunities through online education and telehealth initiatives. Andentrepreneurs young and old can build businesses on top of this expanded network. I am lookingforward to updates on the progress of Kit Carson¶s project and the impact it will have on theresidents and the economy of Northern New Mexico, as well as on all of our projects.Under the Recovery Act, we have pushed to fund areas that are the most remote, the mostunserved, and the most rural. Our criteria were strengthened even further in the second round to push us in that direction. While some of our awardees are in areas that are more remote thanothers, nobody understands better than you ± folks in this business ± that existing service doesnot follow neat lines. Sometimes, existing service in a small part of an area is a jump-off pointto get to the unserved parts. That can be controversial. But understand, we at RUS have workedhard to minimize it. We have sent our field staff out to determine what was happening on theground in each and every area before we funded it. And by and large, we have targeted the program to the most rural areas we could find that had good applications.While these dramatic Recovery Act investments by RUS and NTIA will move us forward in our mission to achieve ubiquitous broadband access, they won¶t take us all the way there. As you allknow, we have a long road ahead still.We at RUS are now in the post-Recovery Act era. Leveraging our regular broadband loan program and our DLT and Community Connect programs, we want to build on what we¶veaccomplished, and continue to fill the holes in broadband coverage.And for us at USDA, it is not enough to build these networks ± we want to help build businesseson top of them. Our Rural Development mission area is committed to working withcommunities to finance new internet-based businesses in the communities we¶ve supported.

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