Broadband Stimulus Expertise
Davis Wright Tremaine’s telecommunications group has long been a critical adviser to market leaders and emerging companies in the communications industry.
We do not dabble in communications law—it is what we do every day. We represent companies in every corner of the industry, as well as many other technology firms whose businesses intersect with telecommunications companies. We also represent trade associations and large consumers of information services.
Davis Wright Tremaine offers experienced lawyers to guide clients through complex issues. Most of our telecom partners have worked in the industry for more than 20 years and have lived through the tremendous changes the industry has experienced. Many have also held senior positions with companies, government agencies and associations—including the FCC, CPUC, AT&T Wireless, Verizon, NASUCA, CompTel and XO Communications—and therefore understand how to work efficiently with clients and effectively with regulators.
Our attorneys have been deeply involved in the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). We have been closely tracking the developments of the Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), and the $7.2 billion to be dispensed by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for broadband deployment grants and loans, nationwide broadband mapping, programs to encourage broadband service adoption, and grants for expanding public computer center capacity. We filed several BTOP and BIP applications on behalf of clients in August 2009, and will file for several more clients in the next funding round.
Bringing to bear our experience both in the current ARRA broadband grant program and other federally funded grant programs, Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys are in a unique position to assist with the following:
- Assisting in the preparation of and advocacy for RUS and NTIA applications;
- Enhancing grant applications by taking into consideration relevant “plus factors” that make an application more likely to be selected;
- Identifying niche or unheralded opportunities that may distinguish a grant application from the masses;
- Assisting in the development of strategic relationships and partnerships with small and disadvantaged business entities (SDBs) and organizations involved in facilitating broadband access to and adoption by low-income, unemployed, aged or otherwise “vulnerable” communities;
- Monitoring and reporting on developments at the NTIA, RUS, FCC and other federal entities related to ARRA implementation and opportunities;
- Providing regulatory, public policy and business counsel relating to all facets of the ARRA funding process; and
- Post-award compliance.
Davis Wright Tremaine’s broadband stimulus work
Through our application work to date, as well as frequent meetings with regulators and policymakers and diligent research, we know the issues critical to successful applications. In addition to their overall applications, companies should be formulating detailed business proposals that include “plus factors” that could increase the likelihood that their applications will be chosen. “Plus factors” include building alliances with state and local officials, as well as community anchor institutions, small disadvantaged local business concerns, and national and local grass roots organizations, particularly those in low income communities, that (1) stimulate economic growth and job creation, especially in areas that have been adversely impacted by the current economy; and (2) stimulate demand for broadband service. Companies should also be lining up financing to be able to meet the 20 percent contribution requirement, and position themselves to show that they could start work immediately and complete the project rapidly. Please see our client advisory, “Federal Agencies Begin Process of Implementing Broadband Stimulus Programs,” for a summary of those “plus factors.”
Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys provide insightful advice on the types of projects that qualify for grants, how to frame applications, and how to compete against others seeking funding in their markets. We work with each client to create a smartly tailored application, and to socialize the application and advocate the client’s cause with appropriate government officials. Most of the key NTIA staff tasked to oversee this review have backgrounds at the FCC and on Capitol Hill. Many of our attorneys have spent their careers working with and advocating before these officials, so we know what they are looking for in a successful application.
With over 35 years of experience in state and local telecom and cable regulation, Davis Wright Tremaine is especially well positioned to form connections at the state and local levels. Congress ordered NTIA to consult with the states, and the states have created task forces or other programs to consider and recommend projects. Accordingly, companies should be monitoring activity at the state level, and meeting with state and local authorities involved in recommending favored projects. Our attorneys are able to assist you in identifying and contacting the key state bodies.
- Grant application preparation and advocacy: Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys have helped clients in crafting and filing applications under the new ARRA programs in the first filing window, and are advocating on behalf of these applications on an ongoing basis.
- BTOP and FCC National Broadband Plan Comments: Davis Wright Tremaine filed comments with NTIA and RUS on their Request for Information on the selection criteria and other elements of the BTOP and RUS Programs, as well as comments with the FCC on its longer-term "National Broadband Plan" proceeding for several clients.
- Universal Service Fund: Our attorneys regularly advise clients participating in the federal and state Universal Service Fund (USF) programs with satisfying eligibility criteria and receiving support, including funding for rural and high cost areas and for services to health care providers, and support for schools and libraries through the “E-Rate” program. Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys assist clients with Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) applications to state commissions, showing that the applicant meets the statutory criteria and regulatory requirements to be deemed eligible. They also assist with obtaining annual recertification, which typically requires a two year network plan showing the manner in which the USF dollars will be spent and prioritized on capital projects.
FCC Launches Significant E-Rate Reforms (05.21.10)