Friday, July 02, 2010

$795 million in rural broadband grants announced

President Obama today announced $795 million in rural broadband awards for 66 areas with little or no high-speed Internet access. The White House said the money will create around 5,000 construction and installation jobs in the short term and will affect more than 685,000 businesses, 900 health care facilities and 2,400 schools, David Jackson of USA Today reports. "Broadband can remove geographic barriers between patients and their doctors," Obama said. "It can connect our kids to the digital skills the 21st-century education requires for the jobs of the future, and it can prepare America to run on clean energy by helping us upgrade to a smarter, stronger, more secure electrical grid."

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was quick to qualify the announcement by noting House appropriators have voted to rescind $602 million worth of stimulus plan broadband funding and redirect it to funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Read more)

Projects in 37 states received at least a partial award; Iowa led all states with seven. Four projects encompassing more than one state were awarded funding. The largest local award went to Wilkes Telephone & Electric Co., which received $48.1 million to enhance broadband communication options in Lincoln, Taliaferro and Wilkes counties in Georgia. One nationwide project, administered by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, got $62.5 million to create a nationwide high-capacity network between 30 existing research and educational networks. You can see the entire list of awards here.

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