The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) is a grant program associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grant program was created to promote the development and adoption of broadband throughout the United States, particularly in unserved and underserved areas. BTOP will oversee disbursement of $4.7 billion in a number of categories. The program is expected to create jobs, advance technology and boost the economy. Most projects involve wireless broadband technologies, which are easier and less expensive to deploy in areas of sparse population.
BTOP categories include:
- The Broadband Infrastructure category, for projects delivering broadband to unserved and underserved areas.
- The Public Computer Center category, for projects to expand or develop centers for public access, such as public libraries and community colleges.
- The Sustainable Broadband Adoption category, for projects that stimulate the demand for broadband. The focus of such projects might include public awareness campaigns, access, support, and education and training.
For the purposes of BTOP, an unserved area is defined as "one or more contiguous census blocks where at least 90% of households in the proposed funded service area lack access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service, either fixed or mobile, at the minimum broadband speed" and an underserved area is one or more contiguous census blocks in which either (a) no more than 50% of households have such access; (b) no service provider advertises downstream speeds of at the minimum broadband speed; or (c) under 40% of households are broadband subscribers. Minimum speed is defined as least 3 Mbps (megabits per second) downstream.
The other component of ARRA's broadband initiative is USDA's Rural Utilities Service Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). Together, the two programs will oversee $7.2 billion in funding.
Learn More About IT:
> The National Telecommunications and Information Administration website offers a BTOP fact sheet.
> The New America Foundation offers guides to applying for BTOP funding.
> The American Library Association provides a Stimulus FAQ list.
> Broadband USA maintains news about the broadband initiative.
> Broadband.gov has more information about ARRA initiatives.
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