Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP)

News and Announcements [newest at top]

  • 7/2 -- On July 2nd, the United States Unified Community Anchor Network(UCAN) received $62.5 million in stimulus funds from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). UCAN will be a nationwide, coast-to-coast advanced network infrastructure that, together with state and regional network partners, will enable the connection of America's community anchor institutions-schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers and public safety organizations-to support advanced applications not possible with today's typical Internet service. More information on UCAN external link
  • 6/26 -- Prepared Remarks of FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn before the American Library Association, Washington, D.C., June 26, 2010: Word Word documentexternal link| .PDF pdf fileexternal link
  • 6/24 -- Bringing America Up to Speed: States’ Role in Expanding Broadband. Only 65 percent of Americans have broadband at home even though it’s available to 95 percent. The estimated 100 million Americans who lack broadband at home say they cannot afford it, they don’t know how to use it, believe it is irrelevant to their lives, or can’t get it.
    A new report from the Pew Center on the States finds that states increasingly see broadband as a powerful vehicle for driving long-term economic growth and delivering services more efficiently and effectively.
    Bringing America Up to Speed: States’ Role in Expanding Broadbandpdf fileexternal link examines the national push to ensure broadband access for all Americans. Driven by tight budgets, states are seeking to use this technology to deliver and improve education, public safety, health care, government services and energy. Just about every policy area that states manage could be affected by expanding broadband availability, adoption and quality.
    Is your state connected? Click here for a county level map of broadband in the US.external link
  • 6/10 -- NY ImPACt Survey Findings. Computer and Internet usage by New York's library patrons: New York's participation in a national survey reveal that patrons used libraries for computing even when they had alternate access at home.  The top factors in this choice include:
    • Lack of access to high speed Internet at home. Better speed and capacity for large files or sites requiring Flash or other plug-ins
    • For technology assistance with equipment or technology,  library services or navigation of the library's website
    • Gaps in access due to power outage at home, breaks in service, or old, broken or corrupted computer
    • Household competition
    • Use when on vacation or on a business trip or during lunch breaks
    • For a change of scenery and interaction with people
    • Job seekers trying to maintain a normal schedule and connected to the community
    For a more complete summary on the use of public access or wireless computing in libraries,  as reported by patrons, please read the ImPACt Survey Report Findings for New York.
  • 5/21 -- A Department of Agriculture memoexternal link announces that the RUS will extend the application deadline for the Rural Satellite and Rural Library program to June 8th. From the memo:
    SUMMARY: Due to emergency maintenance issues on May 14, 2010, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is extending, by one day, the deadline for submitting Public Notice Requests (PNRs) on pending applications filed under Second Round Notice of Funds Availability (Second Round NOFA) for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), published in the Federal Register at 75 FR 3820 (January 22, 2010). Such technical issues also affected the application window for satellite, rural library broadband, and technical assistance projects under BIP’s Request for Proposals (RFP), published in the Federal Register at 75 FR 25185 (May 7, 2010). As a result, PNR’s on pending Second Round NOFA applications must be filed by May 24, 2010, at 11:59 p.m. Central Time (CT); and applications for satellite, rural library broadband, and technical assistance projects must be postmarked by June 8, 2010.
  • 5/10 -- The Rural Utilities Service announced its general policy and application procedures for the second round of funding for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 , on January 22, 2010 at 74 FR 3820. In that Second Round NOFA, RUS announced the opening of a future window for specific grants for Satellite, Rural Library Broadband, and Technical Assistance, and that any requirements would be outlined in the Request for Proposals. This link to the RFPexternal link outlines those requirements. Applications for Satellite, Rural Library Broadband, and Technical Assistance Projects will be accepted from May 7, 2010, until June 8, 2010 [was June 7; see above]. This link takes you to background information and program summaries. external link
  • 3/25 -- The New York State Education Department, in conjunction with the New York State Library, submitted a Round Two application to NTIA in the category of Broadband Adoption to develop a digital literacy curriculum and digital literacy outreach training for school media specialists, teachers, students and public librarians using a cadre of "cybersages" to provide one-on-one mentoring and on-site training throughout the state. The project, entitled: Closing the Broadband Gap: Lifelines for New Yorkers, includes plans to conduct a statewide broadband awareness program and work hand-in-hand with Public Computer Centers funded in Round One, to help non-adopters recognize the value of digital and mobile broadband communication skills as important life skills. [Executive Summary]
  • 3/22 -- The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Libraries are eligible to be recipients of DLT Loans and Grants. Applications will be received through May 18, 2010. In addition the announcement includes the anticipated amount of funding available (just over $30 million), the minimum and maximum amounts for DLT grants applicable for the fiscal year ($50k min. and $500K max.), and a change in scoring necessitated by the expiration of the Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community (EZ/EC) designations. There is a 15% match requirement.
    Announcementexternal link | Application form and guideexternal link
  • 3/1 Round 1 Funding Announcement -- The New York State Library received funding through the BTOP Public Computer Center category for the creation of 30 Public Computer Training Centers and 5 emobile computer centers through libraries and library systems. Round One funding for this initiative includes $9,521,150.00 from the National Telecommunications Information Administration and $5,418,370.00 in matching funds. This grant will enable public libraries to extend hours, add more than 800 new public computer workstations, and provide access to 24/7 job search resources in economically distressed New York counties. More than 6 million New York residents will be served through public libraries in this initiative.
    Funding for a second application by the New York State Library in the BTOP Sustainable Broadband Adoption category was not approved in Round One funding.
  • [2/17] Round 2 Application Opens -- The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) are now accepting applications under the second and final round of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). (Applications were due March 15, 2010.)
  • [2/16] NTIA Releases Broadband Report -- On February 16, 2010, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released its report on broadband internet connectivity based on a survey of more than 50,000 households commissioned by NTIA and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2009.
    Highlights of DIGITAL NATION: 21st Century America’s Progress Towards Universal Broadband Internet Accesspdf fileexternal linkinclude: Broadband Internet access at home continues to grow --64 percent of households have broadband access compared to 51 percent in October 2007; Notable disparities between demographic groups continue --people with low incomes, seniors, minorities, the less-educated, non-family households, and the non-employed tend to lag behind other groups in home broadband use.
    Overall, the two most commonly cited reasons for not having broadband Internet access at home are that it is perceived as not needed (38 percent) or too expensive (26 percent). Besides these value and affordability concerns, Americans also cite the lack of a computer as a major factor. In rural America, however, lack of broadband availability is a more frequently-cited major reason for non-adoption than in urban areas (11 percent vs. 1 percent). Americans who do not use the Internet in any location most commonly cite insufficient value, or no need, as the reason. In contrast, households that have dial-up access to the Internet as well as households without any type of Internet access at home most frequently cite cost as the reason they do not have broadband access at home. Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 30 percent of all persons do not use the Internet in any location.
    This report is based on the first data sets released by the Census Bureauexternal link. In the coming months, the Census Bureau will provide NTIA with more geographically and demographically detailed data.
  • [2/5] On February 5, John Windhausen, consultant to ALA’s Washington Office and president of Telepoly, and Christopher Mclean, Principal of e-Copernicus and former Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), provided in-depth information about Round II of BTOP and BIP. Link to the Webinarexternal link; archive of ALA Webinars external link
  • [1/27] United States Department of Agriculture designates $100 million for rural libraries. WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Secretary of Agriculture has allocated $100 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries to provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities. The funding will be provided primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
    Funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public libraries. This can include costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees and purchase equipment required for operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment and bookmobiles.
    Depending on funding availability, USDA Rural Development will provide up to $500,000 in additional Recovery Act dedicated grant funds to each of the State Offices for library projects. [For more information on the program, see the USDA Rural Development fact sheet.external link]
    Applications are handled through regional field offices. Libraries should contact their state agriculture offices. [List of NYS field officesexternal link; New York State page for US Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Programsexternal link]
  • There is $2.6 billion in funding available for BTOP funding, and $2.2 billion in RUS funding. Grant applications will be available on-line February 16, 2010, with a deadline of March 15, 2010 to submit. RUS has identified rural libraries specifically for funding.The application window for the Rural Library Broadband Projects will be announced in a separate RFP in the Federal Register sometime after February 16, 2010.
    The Round 2 NOFA contains some significant changes in criteria including:
    • BIP and BTOP grants will have separate and distinct grant applications.
    • There is a 20% match requirement for projects funded through the NTIA’s BTOP program. NTIA “strongly” encourages applicants to strive to exceed a 30% match to receive a higher review score.
    • BTOP Infrastructure funding category has been renamed Comprehensive Community Infrastructure.
    • Most of the funding available in the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure category will be for middle mile projects. Last mile projects will only be considered after all middle mile projects have been considered.
    • Anchor Institutions no longer have to be in unserved/underserved areas. (However, extra consideration will be given if they are).
    • Public safety entities are now considered community anchor institutions.
    • Professional Engineer certification is only required during the “due diligence” phase.
    • Scoring criteria for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects have been modified, placing more emphasis on Project Budget and Sustainability, and less on Project Purpose and Benefits.
    • Applicants can "link" related projects within and across categories, when applying online.
    • Service providers who are challenging applications will be required to submit detailed evidence to back up their claims of overlapping service.
  • [1/21] On Friday, January 22, 2010, John Windhausen, consultant to the American Library Association's (ALA) Washington Office and president of Telepoly, and Bob Bocher, ALA OITP Fellow and library technology consultant at Wisconsin's state library agency, provided an overview and describe the key changes from Round One to Round Two of BTOP and BIP -- the Federal broadband stimulus programs at the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. Link to the Webinarexternal link; archive of ALA Webinars external link
  • [1/19] Round Two Funding BTOP Funding Notice Announcement from the NTIA:
Last Updated: October 28, 2014 ; for questions or comments, contact Mary Linda Todd; (518) 486-4858