Earlier this year, at the start of Round Two, BTOP partnered with USDA’s Broadband Initiatives Program, to launch BroadbandMatch, an online tool that allowed potential broadband grant applicants to find partners for their projects, helping them to combine expertise and create stronger proposals. Conceived as part of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative, the tool enabled applicants and would-be partners to see not only which small and minority-owned companies might supply goods or services for their projects, but also which nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and state and municipal governments were taking the initiative to improve broadband access and digital literacy.
Now, In response to positive feedback, and to promote continued broadband deployment and adoption, BroadbandMatch is here to stay. NTIA is re-launching the tool as an ongoing resource for communities pursuing broadband projects and programs. This tool can help BTOP grantees identify prospective vendors as they implement their projects, and it can aid businesses, non-profits, and state and local governments find potential partners to collaborate on broadband initiatives.
Though the grant application window was only open a few short weeks, over 1400 organizations established profiles on the BroadbandMatch site. This included hundreds of community anchor institutions like libraries and community colleges, hundreds more Internet service providers, dozens of small and minority-owned for-profit businesses, over a hundred states or municipalities, as well as various technology vendors, public safety institutions, venture capital firms and tribal entities.
A number of applicants also stated that participating on BroadbandMatch exposed them to new partners and several awarded projects used the tool. Even in cases where business opportunities didn’t materialize from a particular BTOP application, participants told us they cultivated relationships that will last beyond the Recovery Act.
While the application window has closed and we are no longer able to fund additional projects, the overwhelming response to BTOP reveals a robust appetite for broadband across the country. Therefore, consider harnessing the tremendous interest in broadband that BTOP generated to ensure that your community receives better, faster, more affordable broadband service.
Join BroadbandMatch or update your existing profile today!
Maureen Lewis is NTIA's Minority Telecommunications Development Program Director.