Montana PSC: Qwest should apply for broadband funding

Only a week after Qwest decided to opt out of the first round of federal funding for new broadband deployments from the National Telecommunications Industry Association (NTIA)--a decision it argued was based on restrictive rules--the Montana Public Service Commission is asking Qwest to reconsider its decision because it could help extend broadband services in the mostly rural state. Qwest, along with its two larger RBOC brothers (AT&T and Verizon), all separately announced not to apply for the first round of funding.

The NTIA, which is going to award the first $4 billion of the $7.2 total in broadband grants and loans, said they will go back and look at the rules after the first round of funding is completed. One of the issues that has come up for Qwest and other service providers is the meaning of "underserved" areas of broadband.

Regardless of whatever rule changes come, Montana's PSC Vice Chairman Ken Toole thinks Qwest could be inhibiting its ability to extend broadband into rural communities.

"It is mind-boggling to me that Qwest would turn its back on this opportunity," he said in a statement. "This grant is specifically designed for rural areas underserved by this technology. By not applying, Qwest is forcing Montanans to wait even longer to catch up with broadband technology that has been readily available for years in much of the rest of the country."

For more:
- see the Montana PSC's release here
- Associated Press has this article

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