Buy American Rules Eased for Broadband Stimulus

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the agency distributing $4.7 billion in broadband stimulus grants, has decided communications vendors do not have to adhere to “Buy American” rules when buying certain equipment for federally funded network deployments.

Suppliers including Cisco Systems Inc., Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola Corp. had asked the NTIA to waive the provision because most of their manufacturing takes place overseas; the cost of relocating operations would outweigh the benefits of taking part in the stimulus projects, they said. Job creation, then – the whole point of the 2009 economic stimulus package – would be defeated, they argued.

The NTIA late last week agreed and eased its “Buy American” requirements on gear including switching, transport and access equipment. However, fiber lines, coaxial cable and wireless telecom towers all must stick to the “Buy American” clause.

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