Monday, March 15, 2010

Scoops! Get your Scoops here!

Ice cream for breakfast anyone?

(Suspend belief that I am on the East coast and submitting this in the afternoon. This post is still breakfast for those in the Midwest and on the West coast and in Hawaii! ha!)

Here you go in a nutshell: the latest insider info coming out of the mad warehouse:

Broadband Stimulus.

Aaaah! As you 2,000 or so unfunded applicants and newbie applicants scramble to assemble your Round 2 applications, take some time to pour out some libation in memorium of the over 150 Round 1 due diligence applicants that are STILL sitting in limbo.

Yup, those fortunate few, once the envy of all the under and unfunded applicants are being/have been told to REAPPLY in Round 2. For some reason or another (don't ask them why because, like you, they too have NOT BEEN TOLD) their application was not deemed good enough to push them over the hump and actually get funded.

There are 22 such BTOP applicants and 130 BIP applicants that are not rejected, yet not funded either. Let's call these "The Lost Boys" (in memory of the late 1/2 of the Two Coreys: Corey Haim.).

You would think being told to re-file would be simple enough, right? Not so much as many of you re-filing should know by now, the refocus and shift in priorities, and even the application requirements itself , are making it not so easy. Some of these folks were told to refile and given 2 short weeks to fix up whatever was not good enough with their last application and re-apply in this round with the rest of the lot. Who knows if they will even be given a priority.

You wouldn't care so much unless you had decided to forgo applying to cover an area proposed by one of these Round 1 due diligence applicants. You probably presumed they'd eventually be funded so you'd better not even bother loop those areas in your application. Now you know you really could've done so. So you too, errant speculator, are also getting the shaft by this misapplication of administrative processing.

True, so far all of those that past on to due diligence have gotten funded, but there is no guarantee that these "Lost Boys" will too. Even the NTIA and RUS said so.

Finally, since all of this was for the residents and businesses in the unserved and underserved areas, what happens at the end of round 2 when they still don't have sufficient or any broadband options? Simply because of this overlap? Those folks will be the real losers in all this, now wouldn't they? 'Tis a bloody shame, yes.

To recap, there are:

BTOP: 28 due diligence applications still waiting on funding or rejection
BIP: 124 due diligence applicants still waiting on funding or rejection

TOTAL: 152 <--That's a whole lot of Lost Boys. Here's to hoping the Lost Boys find their way because Lord knows we have enough Vampires running around from that annoying Twilight saga. Cheers!

Leveraging of Broadband Stimulus Funding.

I would imagine that those in the business of speculating on whether or not and to what extent to invest in and provide private equity support to BTOP and BIP projects really need to know whether the investment would be worth the effort and mullah. Granted these financiers take risks as are the applicants in going through all this process in the first place, and heck even the government that these ambitious projects will take off and indeed bridge the Broadband gap and get more Americans connected. Whatever it takes, we are all hedging bets that this effort will enable us, as a nation, to climb the ladder a rung or two and maybe even surpass the so-called "Third World" or developing nations that are ahead of the US in terms of Broadband deployment.

This weekend, I got a response to a lengthy query from an investor who is eager to learn how, if at all, the government plans on leveraging the total funds allocated to the broadband stimulus. The answer I received was this:

The exact amount of leveraging will not be known until the end of round 2 and will be based on the total amount of loans and grants that are approved.

I tweeted that but what I left out was the part about how the final leveraged amount is dictated by the ARRA. So there is a clue there. Read between the lines in the enabling legislation, that is ARRA, and you will find additional insight into how it may be done. (Don't make ME have to do it for you. Not getting paid enough for all that. ha!)

I also think it would be worth it looking at the Farm Bill and looking at how those funds (loans and grants) have been treated. It can safely be assumed that a similar process and formula would be used here as well. Good luck! Happy speculating!

The National Broadband Plan.

I also got a chance to get a sneak peek at the essence of the National Broadband Plan slated for release tomorrow.

The Wireless Industry is a winner:

I am obviously not the only one to get a copy of leaked pieces of the plan as there are several journalists and media outlets giving out clues in their publications. The latest came from Businessweek which published a story this morning headlining that AT&T, Verizon, Google May Be Winners in U.S. Broadband Plan. The wireless industry clearly comes out on top the biggest! Why?

The FCC will propose that the Broadcasters give back some of their analog spectrum that they've been holding onto for dear life. In exchange, the government will give them a cut in on the action after the FCC re-auctions that spectrum.

Those that sell to the wireless industry are in the running to fare well, the article says. I agree. The spectrum has nearly dried up and we clearly need more with these smart phones becoming even smarter and with folks like Apple and Dell coming out with portable pads, and 4G and 5G devices, applications and programs sopping and demanding even more bandwidth and spectrum.

Further, there is encouragement on creative and innovative uses of the unlicensed spectrum so wi-max, wi-fi, mesh technology products and service providers will also be in the running to maximize new opportunities. I'm not sure if there will be more regulation, but I think there will be a freeing up of uses of the unlicensed spectrum as well as a widening of options for it.

The little guys will be winners.

Disability Community - There will be laws, policy and practical forums and steps to assist the disability community get broadband access, and skills necessary to take advantage of it. So if you are a manufacturer or supplier of goods and services to that industry, you should be poised to do okay. This is good for the disability community as well, of course.

Small Businesses - There are nuggets in there to help fund, train and provide other resources to get small business IT and broadband systems up to par so they can compete. Excellent news for most of my clients which are small businesses!

Native Americans can expect a separate funding for broadband on reservations and other efforts to encourage deployment, training and adoption. So if you haven't gotten funding through the BTOP/BIP for your Tribal project, there may be some additional funding out there for you to apply for via this new initiative.

Lawyers, analysts, lobbyists and policy thinking and talking heads will be winners.

With an estimated 40+ NPRMs and NOIs slated to come out after this plan is released (not to mention additional legislation from Congress and regulations from sister agencies), folks like me and my friends are in the running to do well helping clients figure it out and make sure their respective interests are protected and represented. There will be so much in-fighting because as you can imagine there will be folks on both sides of each issue all elbowing to stay ahead and afloat.

Talk about stimulus funding. At least some out-of-work attorneys may get some good work out of this. (and believe me, in this economy, the lawyer pool is flooded with many great unemployed talent)

That's all I got for now. All of it may be madness, but at least it makes life interesting for me at least, whose favorite ice cream flavor is Vanilla, of all things!

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