Feds Award $1.8B for 94 Broadband Projects

About 75 percent of $7.2 billion in federal broadband funding now awarded. Grants and loans targeted to expand high speed Internet access and adoption, including infrastructure builds and public safety projects.

August 20, 2010
By

D.H. Kass

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The federal government this week awarded $1.8 billion for 94 projects in 37 states to extend broadband access to underserved communities, build out infrastructure and construct public safety wireless networks.

The grants and loans are part of the overall $7.2 billion designated for broadband expansion nationwide under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), about 65 percent of which is awarded by the U.S. Commerce Department and the remainder from the Department of Agriculture.

The program is administered by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

“In addition to bringing 21st century infrastructure to underserved communities and rural areas, these investments will begin to harness the power of broadband to improve education, health care, and public safety,” said Vice President Biden, in announcing the grants and loans.

Some 66 grants were awarded by the Commerce Department for projects to build infrastructure and connect community anchor institutions to broadband, create and upgrade public computer centers, and encourage broadband adoption, officials said.

The Commerce Department’s awards also include grants aimed at public safety broadband networks to improve response times and communication in emergencies.

The government called out the public safety projects in particular because they are considered a head start on President Obama’s plan to develop a nationwide, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network.

An additional 28 awards from the Agriculture Department are targeted for broadband infrastructure and satellite projects to extend high speed Internet access to rural residents in 16 states and Native American tribal areas.

“These projects will connect Americans who have for too long been without the full economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet access–access central to success in the 21st Century,” said Gary Locke, U.S. Commerce Secretary.

75 percent of broadband funding already awarded

Earlier this month, the Agriculture Department released $1.2 billion in grants and loans, supplemented by $117 in matching private funds, directed at 126 new broadband infrastructure projects in rural and underserved areas.

In July, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture awarded $795 million for 66 broadband projects spanning all 50 states.

Of the $7.2 billion in stimulus funding, about $1.8 billion remains, which the government has said will be allocated by the end of September.

Award winners must meet the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement to receive the funding.

“The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

TAGS: Internet,broadband,federal government,commerce,Agriculture



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