New Broadband Stimulus Awards Include Satellite, Public Safety Networks

Yesterday Vice President Biden announced that as part of the second round of broadband funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the government has awarded $1.8 billion to 94 new broadband projects within 37 states.

This announcement includes 66 grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) to deploy broadband and connect community anchor institutions, create and upgrade public computer centers, and encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband service. It also includes 28 awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for broadband infrastructure and satellite projects that will provide rural residents in 16 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

The University of Arkansas received the largest financial award,$102 million, to connect community anchor institutions throughout the state. Other winners include Windstream which received more than $64 million for four new projects; Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corp. which received more than $21 million for a FTTH network; and Peoples Telephone Cooperative which was awarded more than $28 million to  provide middle-mile broadband service in eastern Texas, connecting 190 community institutions to broadband.

For the first time the stimulus winners include four satellite operators:

  • Hughes Network Systems received $59 million to offer satellite broadband service to rural residential and commercial subscribers nationwide. Approximately 258,685 people stand to benefit, as do 3,200 businesses.
  • WildBlue Communications was awarded $20 million to offer satellite broadband service in the West and Midwest United States. Approximately 110,150 people stand to benefit, as do roughly 4,896 businesses.
  • Spacenet received an $8 million award to offer satellite broadband service to rural residential subscribers in Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Echostar was awarded $14 million award to offer satellite broadband service to rural residential and commercial subscribers. The funds will provide service to 42,478 people and 1,888 businesses.

Also for the first time, the NTIA awards contain five grants totaling $220 million for the construction of five public safety broadband networks. The public safety awards went to government entities, with the exception of Motorola which received $50 million to build a network in the greater San Francisco Bay area.  All of the networks will utilize 4G technology, and meet the FCC’s standards for nationwide interoperability.

Finally, Qwest’s application for $348 million is still pending.

A list of the new projects receiving ARRA broadband grant awards can be viewed online.

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