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NTIA Pulls Plug on $80M Lousiana Broadband Grant Alliance

11/07/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Subtract $80 million
from the government money
helping get broadband service into
underserved and unserved communities.

The Commerce Department’s
National Telecommunications
&
Information Administration
confirmed it
has terminated
a grant of more than $80 million to the Louisiana
Broadband Alliance, which had planned to
deploy more than 900 miles of fiber-optic cable to
deliver service to some of the poorest areas of the
state via more than 80 direct connections to anchor
institutions.

After delays and inadequate plans, according to
the agency, the plug has been pulled on the funding.

It represents just a fraction of the billions in grant
dollars NTIA allocated as part of BTOP (Broadband
Technology Opportunities Program), one element of
the president’s stimulus package.

The NTIA had pledged to keep a close watch on
how the funds were being spent.

“NTIA is vigorously overseeing broadband grant
projects to ensure they are completed on time [and]
on budget and deliver the promised benefits to the
communities they serve,” NTIA chief Lawrence
Strickling said in a statement emailed to Multichannel
News. “It is our goal to intervene early with projects
that are getting off track and correct problems to
ensure that taxpayer dollars are not wasted on projects
that otherwise would fail.”

The Louisiana project was in that troubled category,
he indicated.

“We have worked closely with the state throughout
the last several months to rescue this project but
have now concluded that we have to move on. Accordingly,
as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,
NTIA terminated the grant and will return the
funds to the U.S. Treasury.”

 

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