Qwest is upbeat about broadband stimulus, but questions remain

Qwest may have been one of the initial holdouts in the broadband stimulus funding race, but it's hard not to notice company CEO Ed Mueller's statement during last week's Q4 earnings call that they are "actively pursuing" the second phase of stimulus funding.

Mueller was quick to add that "there is still, I think, a lot of confusion" over the definition of "unserved" and underserved areas. Other service providers, including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, cited the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules would be too restrictive.

While the FCC is not going to back down on its Net Neutrality stance, Qwest's Colorado president Chuck Ward said two weeks ago that the RBOC felt encouraged by the changes in rules that define "unserved" and "underserved" communities. At that time, Ward said that the rules of the first round of funding would have prevented any broadband projects from being funded if they were within 60 miles of a city or a town.

And while clarity is still needed, it appears that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have altered the remote and non-remote requirements, thus prompting Qwest to consider applying for second-round funding. Under the rules of the first round, the NTIA and RUS would fund 100 percent in remote areas and then 50/50 in non-remote areas. However, the second round simplifies the process by setting a 75/25 grant/loan combination for any broadband project.

For more:
- Connected Planet has this article

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