House Cuts BTOP to Fund State Aid Package

H.R. 1586, a $26 billion state aid package created to halt layoffs of educators and other state/local government employees, is being funded through cuts in the  Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), according to a post on FierceTelecom,.  Approximately $300 million is being carved out of the BTOP to fund the initiative.  It is estimated the law will rescue about 160,000 education and library jobs, though there appears to be no estimate provided of jobs lost on the broadband implementation side.

-LBB

FCC’s National Broadband Plan Released

On Tuesday, March 16, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the much-anticipated National Broadband Plan.  The plan is designed to be a roadmap for the next decade with regards to implementing broadband Internet access to unserved and under-served populations within the U.S.

While the plan itself is lengthy, there are six stated goals the FCC wishes to achieve with the implementation of this plan:

1. At least 100 million U.S. homes with affordable access to 100 megabits per second download and 50 megabits per second upload.
2. The U.S. should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the world’s fastest and most extensive wireless networks.
3. Every American should have affordable access to “robust” broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
4. Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions (schools, hospitals and government buildings).
5. Every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
6. Every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

While the goals of the plan are lofty, many questions remain as to whether or not the FCC can pull off the various tenets of the plan.  For example, a key proposal for funding the massive program is to reclaim a chunk of spectrum from broadcasters and re-auction these to companies offering broadband service.   Some $20 billion of spectrum auction money would have to wind its way through the labyrinth of Congress without being diverted, according to an article from the Associated Press.  

 The FCC plan also lays out a concept for overhauling the Universal Service Fund to pay for broadband instead of basic telephone service–its historical focus. The $8-billion-a-year program was originally established to subsidize telephone service in sparsely populated places.  Apparently laws must be changed to allow for the transition from telephone service to broadband.

Not surprising, early reactions from the big phone and cable companies were positive as this could mean billions of dollars to their business over the course of a decade.  Other business opportunities will certainly be spawned in the areas of installation, construction, development, even education and marketing.  It will be fascinating to watch how all this plays out as our nation addresses the building of its “highways of the future.”

All the best,

Lorin

Top 10 Selling to Government Posts for 2009

No year end would be complete without a plethora of “Top 10” lists.  So,  we thought it would be interesting to present to you the Top 10 most read posts by our followers. 

Here they are in reverse order:

10.  Cloud Computing–Top IT Trend in Government
The movement of government IT professionals to adopt cloud computing solutions and methods.

9.  Closing the Government Contract
Do closing techniques really work in government selling?

8.  The Case of the Mysterious 18.2% from State Stabilization for Public Safety
We were among the first to identify this unusual source of funds (worth billions of dollars) for public safety.

7.  Report Unveils State Spending Plans
As the year progressed, states began waking up to the potential within the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for public safety.

6.  Another Boost for Police Technology?
Our post on the House approving $1.25 billion over five years for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

5.  Grant Support Program Announced
Ingram Micro rolls out a program for channel partners helping them identify grant opportunities–a growing trend.

4.  Broadband Grant Award Date Gets Pushed
For many following the broadband saga, this post announced that awards would be pushed until February 2010. 

3.  ARRA Grant Recipient Registration Site Open
Post announcing the opening of the FederalReporting.gov site for recipients of ARRA awards.

2.  Rule You Can Break:  The GSA Schedule
Many believe being on the GSA is the only way to do business with the Federal government.  We provide an alternative view.

1.  Three Types of Buyers in Government Agencies
Contractors must appeal to three different types of buyers within government agencies to be successful.

Amidst one of the worst economies in decades, the year has been difficult for many businesses.  Yet, for those selling to government, bright spots have emerged and signs of hope continue.  We are grateful for those of you who follow our blog regularly, and we invite you to continue (and share it with a friend).  We’ll do our best to offer valuable insight on how to succeed in the dynamic world of government markets.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2010!

All the best,

Rick & Lorin

States Facing Huge Shortfalls in Budgets

Thirty-six states are facing budget shortfalls totaling $28 billion according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  This only five months into the new fiscal year.  The report predicts there will be another $56 billion in shortfalls across 35 states in ’10-’11 and $69 billion in shortfalls across 23 states the year after that.

Many economists think the U.S. economy is beginning to rebound.  But historical analysis shows state budgets continue to struggle long after a national recession ends according to a post on www.stateline.org.

“Even if the recession is over, state budgets are still in appalling condition and are going to be that way for quite a while,” said Corina Eckl, fiscal director at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “For many states, revenue recovery is not even in the forecast.”

“The states are facing nearly unprecedented declines in revenue collections,” said William Pound, executive director of the NCSL. “Coupled with probable declines in federal stimulus support over the next two year, the state fiscal picture is bleak.  We’re heading into an era of retro budgeting, where state spending is receding to levels five to 10 years ago.”

NCSL asked legislative fiscal directors to calculate when their state entered into the recession and when they expect to come out of it.  Twelve states expect recovery in the first half of CY 2010, with nine others expecting it in the second half of the year. Two states—Iowa and Louisiana—think recovery is more than a year away, projecting a rebound in the early months of CY 2011.

According to the http://www.stateline.org post, budget shortfalls are the result of an “erosion of revenues from falling income and sales tax collections and rising expenses associated with growing Medicaid enrollments.”

-LBB

For vendor implications, see our post on Sales & Marketing Management magazine’s “Sound Off” blog.

To receive Galain Solutions’ FREE REPORT “Five Sales Rules to Break When Selling to the Government,” email info@galainsolutions.com or visit http://galainsolutions.com/economicstimulus.html and complete the form.

Do We Really Need a $350 Million Broadband Mapping Program?

Last week, the NTIA asked the FCC to release an important database containing broadband coverage data.  The database contains information from high-speed internet providers on the areas they serve based on data collected through a required FCC form (Form 477).  This form collects information about broadband connections (among other things)  to end-user locations  in individual states.

According to a post on www.broadbandbreakfast.com, the FCC intends to release the database by December 7, 2009 unless it receives significant opposition from the carriers.  See the public notice here.

The NTIA says it wants access to the data in order to “validate the unserved or underserved classifications of the BTOP applicants’ proposed funded service areas,” although it also vows to protect certain confidential “trade secret” information to the degree it is able.

This request raises certain “chicken and egg” questions with regards to validating “underserved areas”–the focus of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).  $350 million was originally allocated to create and maintain a comprehensive national broadband map.  This, in theory, would tell NTIA strategist where to focus efforts and resources.

However, the mapping project will not be completed until late 2010 (or later).  And the NTIA must publish a national broadband strategy plan by the first quarter of 2010.  As such, the NTIA is seeking to rely on this FCC/carrier information to help guide its decisions.

This means, either the NTIA will be making national broadband strategy decisions based on grossly incomplete information, or it will receive sufficient information on coverage from the carriers through this database and the $350 million is an unnecessary expense.  Either conclusion puts the NTIA in a difficult spot.

It will be interesting to see how the carriers respond to this request.  And it will be even more interesting to see what the NTIA decides to fund early in the new year.  Stay tuned for new developments as they arise.

All the best,

-Lorin

Broadband Grant Award Date Gets Pushed. Second NOFA Expected in January

The Broadband grants are slipping.  In a report issued this week, the  NTIA has extended the review period for first round grants and is now targeting December 2009 to begin making awards (it originally expected to have all first-round awards made by the end of the year).  It now expects to make first-round awards by February 2010.

The NTIA has received 2,200 first-round applications totaling nearly $28 billion in funding requests–almost seven times the amount of current funding available .

NTIA and RUS also announced recently they will limit grant awards to only one more funding round (they originally anticipated three rounds).  The Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for this second round is expected to be released some time in January 2010.

As for the mapping program, NTIA has awarded 15 grants “to fund two years of broadband availability collection and verification activities, and up to five years of broadband planning activities in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.”  These awards sum to almost $28 million.

By law, all BTOP funds must be awarded by September 30, 2010, with expectations that all projects be complete by September 30, 2012.

-LBB

Is Another Stimulus Package Around the Corner?

Is another stimulus package on the horizon?  The Obama administration will not acknowledge its plans for this, but James Pethokoukis of Reuters says watch out for Stimulus 2.0 (or 3.0 depending on how you look at it) coming in January.  In a blog today, Pethokoukis says the recently announced “jobs summit” to be held at the White House next month is likely to include planning for a second stimulus to be unveiled in Obama’s State of the Union address in January.

According to Alec Phillips of Goldman Sachs, conservative estimates of the dollar magnitude of the package would be $250 billion over three years.  Pethokoukis says to look for more highway spending, more aid to state and local governments and a business hiring tax credit.  He also suggests it won’t be labeled as a “stimulus plan” but will carry some other moniker instead.

-LBB