Commerce Department Announces 10 Broadband Investments Worth $63 Million

Broadband Data, Broadband Stimulus, Broadband Updates, Broadband's Impact, National Broadband Plan, States March 26th, 2010

, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2010 – The Commerce Department on Thursday announced 10 investments in broadband growth across the nation that total approximately $63 million.

The following grants were announced yesterday:

Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – Navajo Tribal Utility Authority: $32.2 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $13.8 million applicant-provided match to bring high-speed affordable broadband services to the Navajo Nation by deploying 550 miles of new aerial fiber-optic cable and 59 new or modified microwave towers covering 15,000 square miles in three states. The proposed service area has rugged terrain and significant poverty, and more than 60 percent of residents lack basic telephone service. The project expects to directly connect 49 Chapter Houses, which serve as community centers for the Navajo population, at speeds from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Last-mile wireless services will be offered at speeds between 1 and 3 Mbps through the project’s wireless partner, Commnet Wireless.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas – Mission Economic Development Agency: $3.7 million public computer center grant with an additional $2.5 million applicant-provided match to create 12 new public computer centers and expand five existing ones in Phoenix, Ariz.; Canoga Park, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Calif.; Del Norte, Colo.; Blackfoot, Idaho; Wheaton, Md.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Kansas City, Mo.; Anthony, NM; Philadelphia, Pa.; and San Antonio and Laredo, Texas. Each center expects to operate on the project’s centrally managed network and provide computer training and adult education to a low broadband adoption, high unemployment target population through a standardized English-Spanish training curriculum.

Idaho – First Step Internet: $2.4 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $600,000 applicant-provided match to build a regional network of 10 microwave towers to extend high-capacity Internet service in the rural counties of Latah, Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis, and Nez Perce in north-central Idaho. The project intends to directly connect 42 anchor institutions, including healthcare facilities, emergency response agencies, libraries, and government offices, as well as institutions serving the Nez Perce Tribe.

Illinois – City of Chicago: $7 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $2.3 million applicant-provided match to spur economic development in five disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago with a comprehensive broadband awareness and adoption program that will include providing computers and training opportunities to more than 11,000 residents and 500 small businesses and not-for-profits. The project intends to create public computer centers at six community centers for working families and expand workstation capacity at four Business Resource Centers, as well as provide 1,500 residents and small businesses that complete a multi-session training course with laptops and netbooks.

Minnesota – C.K. Blandin Foundation: $4.9 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $1.5 million applicant-provided match to launch the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities initiative, a multi-sector, comprehensive approach to sustainable broadband adoption targeting residents, small businesses, local governments, and critical services providers in each of Minnesota’s 80 rural counties. The project anticipates training as many as 2,500 individuals in computer literacy, online education, and workforce development, and plans to distribute 1,000 affordable refurbished computers. Funding will also support the development of institutional broadband applications for schools and healthcare facilities to help increase broadband adoption.

North Carolina – Fayetteville State University: $1 million public computer center grant with an additional $263,000 applicant-provided match to provide 30 new computer workstations, wireless Internet access, and training courses at a new public computer center for the Fayetteville, North Carolina, community, including residents of local public housing. The project will include courses on Internet basics, personal finance and health, and basic job skills. The first 50 users to complete all of these courses will receive a laptop computer for home use. This project will be led by Fayetteville State University, a Historically Black University, in partnership with the Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority and other organizations that will provide training targeted to the needs of low-income persons.

Ohio and Pennsylvania – Zito Media Communications: $6.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $1.5 million applicant-provided match to create a 382-mile fiber ring with 10 gigabits of capacity through the counties of Geauga, Ashtabula, and Trumbull in Northeastern Ohio, and the counties of Erie, Crawford, and Mercer in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The project plans to deploy 342 miles of new fiber and 40 miles of leased fiber to directly connect an estimated 60 community anchor institutions at speeds from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps, including hospitals, schools, public safety agencies, colleges, and libraries.

Vermont – Vermont Council on Rural Development: $2.5 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $1.2 million applicant-provided match to increase broadband Internet access and adoption in 24 small, mostly rural communities through a comprehensive effort combining broadband training, access, awareness, and planning. The Vermont Council on Rural Development and its project partners plan to train more than 1,800 individuals and distribute an estimated 1,200 computers to 4th and 5th grade students, as well as work with teachers to integrate broadband usage into lesson plans.

Virginia – Nelson County of Virginia: $1.8 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $457,000 applicant-provided match to enhance and expand broadband Internet services in areas of rural Nelson County, Virginia by deploying 31 miles of new fiber and four new wireless tower sites, and directly connecting 13 community anchor institutions. The anchor institutions receiving direct connections to the new network are expected to include seven county government facilities, four K-12 schools, a library, and the Blue Ridge Medical Center.

Virginia – Page County Broadband Authority: $1.6 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $412,000 applicant-provided match to deploy a 39-mile fiber network that will serve the four principal towns in Page County, Virginia, a rural and underserved area in the Shenandoah region of Western Virginia. The network expects to directly connect 29 anchor institutions including, 11 K-12 schools, three libraries, six healthcare facilities, Lord Fairfax Community College, and eight public safety institutions.

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