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Digital Bridge Wins $4.3 Million BTOP Grant

in Broadband Stimulus/States/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2010 – Digital Bridge is the latest broadband stimulus award winner. The wireless broadband provider is one of the few WiMax providers in the nation. The Virginia-based firm was established in 2005 and launched its first network two years later. Digital Bridge maintains 15 networks nationwide.

The firm was awarded a $4.3 million grant to provide service to underserved communities in three Idaho counties; Digital Bridge already provides service in neighboring Twin Falls. In addition to Idaho the company has submitted 31 round two applications for Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana for a little over $150 million. By using wireless technologies and optimizing its equipment, Digital Bridge is able to provide coverage for $300 per household, which is one of the more cost effective options presented to the NTIA.

“This is a vote of confidence in the services provided by DigitalBridge Communications from the NTIA.  We look forward to bringing advanced, fourth-generation broadband services to those living in underserved areas,” said William Wallace, executive vice president of DigitalBridge.  “We also look forward to helping to build mobile broadband Internet into an engine for job and business creation.”

Commerce Department Announces 10 Broadband Investments Worth $63 Million

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/National Broadband Plan/States by

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.

Gates Foundation Looks To Expand Upon Prior Grant to Libraries Offering Broadband

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus by

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2009 – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Tuesday it will provide close to $3.4 million in grants to improve Internet connections for libraries in five states. The foundation is also partnering with 14 other states to assist efforts by libraries to secure some of the $7.2 billion in federal stimulus funds allotted by Congress in January to expand broadband deployment and adoption.

“When libraries have access to broadband, they can effectively deliver critical educational, employment, and government services for residents that lack Internet access elsewhere. As community anchor institutions, libraries can also help drive local broadband adoption,” said Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program, in a statement.

The five states receiving Gates Foundation grants to implement local broadband improvement plans have partnered with the foundation since early 2009 to develop strategies for improving Internet connections for their libraries.

These states include: Arkansas, which received $735,207 from the foundation this week; Kansas, which received $363,099; Massachusetts, which received $367,789; New York, which received $947,517; and Virginia, which received $977,468. The Gates Foundation said the state libraries of California and Texas participated in the program and will be eligible for grants in early 2010. It also added that it has “invested $350 million in grants and support to install and sustain computers in libraries and train thousands of library staff in all 50 states and U.S. territories.”

In late 2008 the Gates Foundation said it would provide Connected Nation and the American Library Association with a $7 million grant meant to improve internet connections in public libraries. Broadband Census news reported that the goal at the time was to ensure that all public libraries within seven states – Arkansas, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia – have broadband connectivity of at least 1.5 Megabits per second. The foundation picked the states because they had large populations with individuals living below the poverty line.

Connected Nation, a Kentucky-based non-profit organization that is funded by Bell and cable companies and by state appropriations, was not mentioned in the Gates Foundation release Tuesday. “Today’s grant announcement is for the five states to implement the plans that they developed with the grant that you referenced from last year. While Connected Nation and [ALA] supported the states as they were developing these plans, the phase of the work that will be funded by today’s announcement is for the states to implement their plans for improving and sustaining high-speed Internet access,” a person familiar with the work of the foundation told Broadband Census News.

The NTIA announced Monday that Connected Nation is being awarded approximately $2 million from the government for its broadband mapping and planning efforts in the state of Kansas.

The Gates Foundation said Tuesday that states who are participating in the group’s new Opportunity Online broadband grant program will receive technical and consulting assistance to develop competitive funding proposals for available government funds. The foundation said it will match the federally-required private funds if a library is chosen. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

The foundation said it chose “to support states that articulated the most compelling and feasible projects aligned with the objectives of the [Broadband Technology Opportunities Program] program” and “considered a state’s need for assistance in developing a competitive BTOP proposal.”

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service are administering the federal broadband stimulus funds to selected grant applicants. The American Library Association said Monday it would like the agencies to simplify the application and review process and prioritize funding for “community anchor institutions.”

“Libraries are uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise and objectives of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Initiatives Program,” said Carrie McGuire, director for the program on networks for the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, in a statement. “We strongly encourage the NTIA and RUS to make changes to the program prior to Round 2 to ensure that libraries can take maximum advantage of this opportunity,” she said.

The Gates Foundation said nationally libraries are not able to offer high-speed Internet access to match patron demand. A recent American Library Association study found 60 percent of all libraries said their current Internet speed is insufficient. In 70 percent of U.S. communities “the public library is the only provider of free Internet access available to residents,” according to the foundation.

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