County Executives of America Plans to Bring Free Broadband Service to Will and Cook Counties

April 26, 2010

CHICAGO, April 26 /PRNewswire/ — County Executives of America (CEA), with support from Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger and Will County Executive Lawrence M. Walsh, today announced an initiative to provide free broadband wireless service to Cook and Will counties, two of 12 counties across the country, which represent the neediest populations.

The organization has applied for stimulus dollars through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Grant from the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) of the Commerce Department to fuel this service. If granted, the $95.2 million in stimulus funds would bring 89,000 job opportunities and universal broadband to more than 2,455,100 Cook and Will County households that cannot afford access.

In a letter of support to the NTIA, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger wrote, “Absent grant of this application, these important services will not be available at a rate that many of our residents and public safety agencies can afford.” He added, “Cook County will be unable to provide equal access to broadband services for the low income and other populations that have been disadvantaged by the high cost of broadband services.”

Will County Executive Lawrence Walsh wrote a similar letter of support, which read in part, “The CEA project will construct a broadband wireless access network and provide a basic level of… access… with no recurring subscription costs to the residents throughout the county.” His letter continued, “The project will also make the same free broadband access service available to the County’s public safety and public service employees to ensure that County resources are more efficiently deployed and more readily available to our most vulnerable residents.”

Cook and Will counties are part of a nationwide initiative for which the CEA has applied for $122 million of stimulus broadband grants from the NTIA. Currently, NTIA is considering applications to make use of the remaining $2.9 billion in broadband stimulus monies Congress allocated in the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act (ARRA) to make broadband affordable and universally available.

CEA has selected M2Z Networks to build out the networks in each county. John Muleta, CEO of M2Z Networks, said, “As the leading association of elected county officials in America, CEA knows that affordable and interoperable broadband services are essential for public safety officials, educators, hospital administrators, librarians and county employees at every level. Working with CEA member communities like Cook and Will counties, M2Z will be able to rapidly build-out of our nationwide infrastructure and make free broadband service a reality for millions of Americans trapped on the wrong side of the broadband divide.”

About County Executives of America (www.countyexecutives.org):

County Executives of America (CEA) is a non-partisan national association that is dedicated specifically to helping elected county chief executives achieve their county’s social and economic development goals through federal and state government advocacy at both the legislative and executive branches. CEA has been in existence for over 40 years and its current membership includes over 700 County Executives, County Judges, Parish and Borough Presidents, City-County Mayors, Commission Presidents and Chairs, all of whom are elected at-large by county residents.

About M2Z Networks:

Silicon Valley-based M2Z Networks’ goal is to boost the U.S. economy by building a free and fast national broadband network. Since May 2006, the FCC has been considering M2Z’s license application for its network, to be constructed in the 2155-2175 MHz spectrum band. The FCC has recently extended its consideration of M2Z’s proposal in a forthcoming rulemaking. If approved, the M2Z proposal would guarantee delivery of its broadband service to at least 95 percent of Americans within 10 years. M2Z is backed by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Charles River Ventures; and Redpoint Ventures. For more information, please visit www.M2ZNetworks.com and www.FreeBroadbandNow.org.

SOURCE County Executives of America

Source: newswire

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