The term “incumbent service provider”, with respect to an application submitted under this section, means an entity that, as of the date of submission of the application, is providing broadband service to not less than 5 percent of the households in the service territory proposed in the application.
An eligible entity that provides telecommunications or broadband service to at least 20 percent of the households in the United States may not receive an amount of funds under this section for a fiscal year in excess of 15 percent of the funds authorized and appropriated under subsection (k) for the fiscal year.
Except as provided in clause (ii), subparagraph (A)(ii) shall not apply to an incumbent service provider in the portion of a proposed service territory in which the provider is upgrading broadband service to meet the minimum acceptable level of broadband service established under subsection (e) for the existing territory of the incumbent service provider.
The Secretary shall take steps to reduce, to the maximum extent practicable, the cost and paperwork associated with applying for a loan or loan guarantee under this section by first-time applicants (particularly first-time applicants who are small and start-up broadband service providers), including by providing for a new application that maintains the ability of the Secretary to make an analysis of the risk associated with the loan involved.
The Secretary shall establish a process under which a prospective applicant may seek a determination of area eligibility prior to preparing a loan application under this section.
The Secretary may require any additional reporting and information by any recipient of any assistance under this section so as to ensure compliance with this section.
At least once every 2 years, the Secretary shall review, and may adjust through notice published in the Federal Register, the minimum acceptable level of broadband service established under paragraph (1) to ensure that high quality, cost-effective broadband service is provided to rural areas over time.
For purposes of determining whether to make a loan or loan guarantee for a project under this section, the Secretary shall use criteria that are technologically neutral.
The Secretary shall consider the existing recurring revenues of the entity at the time of application in determining an adequate level of credit support.
The Secretary shall ensure that the type and amount of, and method of security used to secure, any loan or loan guarantee under this section is commensurate to the risk involved with the loan or loan guarantee, particularly in any case in which the loan or loan guarantee is issued to a financially strong and stable entity, as determined by the Secretary.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the proceeds of any loan made or guaranteed by the Secretary under this chapter may be used by the recipient of the loan for the purpose of refinancing an outstanding obligation of the recipient on another telecommunications loan made under this chapter if the use of the proceeds for that purpose will support the construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment for the provision of broadband service in rural areas.
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $25,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2018, to remain available until expended.
Any amounts in the reserve established for a State for a fiscal year under subparagraph (B) that are not obligated by April 1 of the fiscal year shall be available to the Secretary to make loans and loan guarantees under this section to eligible entities in any State, as determined by the Secretary.
No loan or loan guarantee may be made under this section after September 30, 2018.