Govt Announces $1 Billion in New Broadband Stimulus Awards
This past Monday was a broadband stimulus bonanza, with the federal government awarding a little more than $1 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) grant funding.
RUS announced that $518 million will be invested in 43 new broadband infrastructure projects that will create jobs and provide rural residents in 27 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved Internet service. An additional $34.1 million in private investment also will be committed to the projects.
The largest grant, $66.4 million, was awarded to Lake County in Minnesota for a fiber-the-premises (FTTP) network. Other RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) grants of note:
- Pioneer Telephone Cooperative Inc. in Oklahoma received $35.9 million to provide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service to remote areas within its 76 western Oklahoma telephone exchange boundaries.
- Windstream Communications was awarded $26 million for three new projects in New Mexico, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
- Tri-County Telephone Membership in North Carolina received $14.1 million, matched by more than $2 million in private contribution, to offer broadband using FTTP technology.
- Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. in Minnesota received $16.1 million, matched by $600,000 in private contribution, to build a last-mile FTTH network.
- Digital Bridge Communications received $794,000 to provide 4G broadband and VoIP service via fixed and mobile WiMAX technology.
Despite the looming September 30 deadline to announce all the winners in this funding round, many projects are still under review. Digital Bridge submitted 30 projects in this funding round; 29 are still under review. NRTC also submitted 30 projects, all of which are under review and rely on the Digital Bridge wireless network in which NRTC is a part owner. And finally, Qwest’s single application for $348 million to provide service throughout its 14-state territory is still pending.
For its part, NTIA announced 35 new investments, totaling $482.4 million. Twenty-five of the awards went to computing centers and sustainable broadband adoption programs designed to improve access and spur Internet usage and adoption.
However, the majority of the funds, $360.5 million, were awarded to 10 infrastructure projects to construct middle-mile networks. Colorado’s Centennial Board of Cooperative Educational Services received the largest grant totaling $100.6 million, followed closely by the Connecticut Department of Information Technology which received $93.9 million.
Monday’s NTIA and RUS grant awards are part of the second round of ARRA grant announcements, which will continue on a rolling basis and are slated to be completed by September 30, 2010. In total, NTIA has thus far announced 216 grants that benefit communities across the nation. For its part, RUS has awarded $3.6 billion to construct 307 broadband projects in 46 states and one territory.