WASHINGTON, January 26, 2010 - The Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service is doling out $310 million in broadband stimulus funds, department Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday.
The monies will be spread throughout 14 projects seeking to bring speedy Internet connections to rural communities in the United States in an effort to lift and grow their economies.
"The awards for these broadband projects will support anchor institutions – such as libraries, public buildings and community centers – that are necessary for the viability of rural communities," Vilsack said.
For example, a $2 million grant, $2 million loan and $2 million in leveraged funds will go to the BEK Communications Cooperative in Burleigh County, N.D. The company plans to expand the existing system to offer fiber-to-the-premises service to about 540 homes and other parts of the community.
The existing system provides service to 53 percent of the population in the area, according to RUS, and among the current users, 22 percent derive household income from the Internet. The RUS said the expansion is expected to stimulate economic growth by bringing on new users.
As of last week, NTIA had awarded approximately $200 million in grants for 15 projects.
Applications for the next and final round of broadband funding are due by March 15.
Here is a list of the 14 projects by state that Vilsack announced yesterday and described by RUS:
Southwestern Alaska, United Utilities is receiving a $43.9 million grant and a $44 million loan. The funding will provide middle mile connectivity to 65 communities.
Butler, Butler Telephone Co. is receiving at $3.8 million grant. The funding will provide high speed DSL broadband service to remote, unserved households within its rural service territory.
San Joaquin, Tranquillity, and Fresno, Audeamus are getting a $2.7 million grant and $2.7 million loan. The proposed project is a fiber-based broadband infrastructure for the unserved and underserved communities in this service area. A last-mile project, it will provide access to approximately 1,500 households, local businesses and other institutions.
Meriden and Archer, C-M-L Telephone Cooperative Association, is getting a $1.5 million grant and $1.5 million loan along with $1.5 million in matching funds. Funding will provide services via a fiber optic network to rural communities with high speed internet exceeding 20 Mbps.
Bennett, Delmar, and Lowden, F & B Communications are receiving a $1.6 million grant and $1.6 million loan. Funding will provide services via high speed fiber optic network with speeds exceeding 20Mbps.
Springbrook, LaMotte Telephone Co. is receiving a $187,815 grant and a $187,815 loan. The funding will provide services from a 300-foot tower and Wi-Max installation for wireless broadband service in the surrounding area.
Kansas (1 percent of the network is to be built in Nebraska)
Western Kansas, Rural Telephone Service Co. is getting a $49.5 million grant and a $51 million loan. Funding will provide service in an area 99.5 percent unserved/underserved and provide a rural infrastructure required for economic stability, education and healthcare. The company is a cooperative and RUS partner on 32 other projects. It leads a team of seven companies with this shovel-ready project.
Tennessee (1 percent of the network is to be built in Kentucky)
Northern Tennessee, North Central Telephone Cooperative is getting a $24.7 million grant and a $24.9 million loan. The funding will provide the necessary infrastructure to provide advanced voice, video, and data services that exceed 20Mbps to remote and rural communities in the service area.
Morehouse Parish, Northeast Louisiana Telephone Co., is receiving a $4.3 million grant and a $8 million loan. Funding will provide an active ethernet system with symmetrical speeds of 20 Mbps. The system will be using buried fiber to the premise.
Ralls County, Ralls County Electric Cooperative is receiving a $9.5 million grant and a $9.5 million loan. Funding for this project will provide a fiber optic network to residential and commercial members and the underserved safety and anchor agencies in the service area. This is a State of Missouri demonstration project and non-proprietary data will be shared.
Burleigh County; BEK Communications Cooperative, is receiving $1.9 million grant and $2 million loan along with $2 million in leveraged funds.
Traill County; Halstad Telephone Co. will receive a $2 million grant and a $2 million loan plus $10,000 in leveraged funds. The funding will provide fiber-to-the premises broadband service to unserved homes and businesses in Traill County.
Marion County, Gervais telephone Co. will receive a $314,430 grant and $314,430 loan. This project extends Gervais Telephone's existing fiber network by building out from the nearest fiber splice point through the funded service area. This project will provide broadband connectivity to residential and business end users, as well as to four anchor institutions.
Alleghany County, NTELOS Telephone is receiving an $8 million grant and $8 million loan. The funds will provide broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved homes, businesses and critical community institutions in this rural county. A fiber-based project, it will enable work-from-home jobs and foster economic development, and improve health, education and public safety services to the county citizens.