WASHINGTON, June 9, 2010 –The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has just released a report that outlines the first round of Broadband Initiatives Program grants from the stimulus package last year.
During a conference call with the press USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that more than $1 billion has been awarded to 68 projects in 31 states. In these 68 investments, broadband service was brought to approximately 530,000 residents, 93,000 businesses, and 3,300 anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community centers.
The first round of funded grants also created 5,000 immediate jobs for those laying fiber and building network infrastructure. The report anticipates that these jobs will continue to exist, as maintenance and repairs on towers and lines will be necessary.
While a lot of the investments involved fiber networks, about 20% of the projects were wireless endeavors, and at least 30% of the projects had wireless components. Secretary Vilsack said that the projects were not about “picking the winning technology,” but about what type of connection is best for a specific community’s needs.
In regards to connection speeds, he stated that all grants meet the speed goals from the National Broadband Plan while most are faster than the minimum requirements. He also said that rural residents would not be paying high rates for broadband access. He said that a large percentage of rates come from the costs of installing broadband infrastructure in an area, and that since the grants covered those installation costs, that expense would not be passed to the consumer. By giving consumers faster broadband speeds, customer satisfaction will be higher and more people will begin to use broadband. Vilsack said that if more people are using broadband services, the cost will spread among more consumers, and the rates will remain lower.
Benefits to the rural areas of these broadband investments not only include improving communication, especially for emergency services; but also secondary uses such as Telemedicine for rural hospitals, which gives patients more options for treatments that do not involve extensive travel to bigger hospitals. Parents with children can also access educational material online without having to make arrangement for their children’s care.
Secretary Vilsack emphasized the benefits to farmers and ranchers, which includes up-to-date weather reports and commercial information to help them make the best decisions for their operations. With broadband services, farmers can also access and sell their products on an international scale.
He also stated that the report is a “very, very important report” because it shows that USDA is making a historical impact in rural areas, and he anticipates that this year will be an important one for rural communities. By increasing broadband service to these locations, he hopes to revitalize the country’s economic growth, saying “a strong rural America is a strong America.”
- Broadband Roundup: Zuckerberg and EU Discuss Rules for Facebook, Trumps Supports Oracle, Nevada Caucus Anxieties
- Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Agree that Current AI Assessment Tools are Garbage, But Differ on How to Proceed
- Attorney General Bill Barr Calls for ‘Recalibrated’ Section 230 as Justice Department Hosts Tech Immunity Workshop
- Broadband Roundup: Global Internet Censorship, Tribal Divide, Klobuchar on the Broadband Stump
- Misinformation Expert Warns About the Great Risks of Political Tampering In the 2020 Election
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Data9 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Intellectual Property7 months ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Broadband Data8 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
FCC10 years ago
Telecom Companies Are Using Fight Interrupting Oscar Ceremony Broadcast To Manipulate Public and FCC, Argue Broadcasters
Broadband Roundup6 months ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set
Privacy and Security6 months ago
Comparing Privacy Policies for Wearable Fitness Trackers: Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Under Armour
Open Access2 months ago
UTOPIA Fiber: A Model Open-Access Network
Antitrust5 months ago
Addressing the Impact of Big Data Upon Antitrust is More Complicated Than a Big Tech Breakup