Qwest opts out of first round of broadband stimulus applications

Qwest has decided not to apply for the first round of broadband stimulus grants because it believes that the current rules set by the government aren't financially sound. An ardent supporter of the broadband plan, Qwest thinks the funding rules for the broadband stimulus plan need to be changed. The National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Rural Utilities Service, which are doling out the initial $4 billion in grants and loans, said they will go back and look at the rules after the first round of funding is done and consider changing them for the remaining $3.2 billion funding round.

At issue is a mandate that the money should go to broadband buildouts for customers that live 50 miles outside of cities and towns, versus more densely populated areas. Qwest argued that the funds should be used to help build neighborhood-level broadband networks they could not financially support in sparsely populated regions.

"We continue to support the use of program proceeds to facilitate the deployment of broadband services to unserved consumers," said Steve Davis, Qwest's senior VP for public policy, in a written statement. "However, upon evaluation of the funding opportunity and the various requirements for participation, we were unable to make the business case for filing an application for more rural opportunities."

For more:
- New Mexico Business Weekly has this report

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