January 25, 2010
$310 Million In Stimulus Money Granted For Broadband
In an effort to bring high-speed Internet connections to 14 rural communities around the country, the Agriculture Department is handing out nearly $310 million in stimulus money, The Associated Press reported.
It will amount to the largest round of government funding for broadband since Congress included $7.2 billion for high-speed networks and adoption programs in last year's stimulus bill.
The department is hoping that the money will bring jobs and economic opportunities to rural communities, poor neighborhoods and other parts of the country that are falling behind in the information age.
It is also intended to pay for the network infrastructure needed to deliver telemedicine services, offer online classes and provide other applications that require a lot of bandwidth.
Jonathan Adelstein, who heads the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service, which is awarding the money, said the big batch of projects will create urgently needed jobs now and also build networks that will fuel rural economic development for years to come.
Among the awards being handed out Monday include:
- an $88.1 million grant and loan to an Alaskan telecommunications company that will build "middle mile" networks to connect 65 towns and villages in southwestern Alaska to the Internet.
- a $19.1 million grant and loan to a Missouri electric cooperative to build a fiber-optic network that will reach nearly 5,000 homes, businesses, public safety entities and community organizations in rural Ralls County, Mo.
- a $3.9 million grant to a unit of TDS Telecommunications Corp. to build a digital subscriber line network to serve homes, businesses and community institutions in sparsely populated parts of Alabama.
- a $376,000 grant and loan to a telephone company to build a WiMax network that can deliver wireless broadband connections to nearly 325 homes in northeast Iowa.
The Rural Utilities Service's contribution puts them at $363.7 million overall for 22 broadband projects across the country. The Agriculture Department will award a total of $2.5 billion in stimulus money for broadband programs.
The remaining $4.7 billion in stimulus funding for broadband will come from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department. The NTIA had awarded roughly $200 million in grants for 15 projects, as of last week.
Applications for the next and final round of broadband funding are due by March 15.
The Agriculture Department will use the second round to focus on projects that provide "last-mile" connections that link homes, businesses and other end users to the Internet.
The Commerce Department will focus on "middle-mile" projects that connect anchor institutions such as libraries, colleges and public safety agencies, as well as awarding some money for computing centers in libraries, colleges and other public facilities, and adoption programs that teach people how to use the Internet.
While the demand for the broadband money has been intense, the Commerce and Agriculture departments already have received nearly 2,200 applications requesting a total of $28 billion.
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