U.S. Government doles out initial broadband stimulus awards

At long last, the U.S. government revealed the initial recipients of the broadband stimulus program. Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden announced 18 broadband projects that will get access to the first $182 million of the total $7.2 billion in available grants.

Over the next 75 days, the Obama administration says it will award $2 billion in grants and loans on a rolling basis. Thus far, the Department of Agriculture and the Commerce Department handed out $53.8 million and $129 million for the 18 projects, respectively. Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio were among the six states that were awarded broadband funding grants.

The awards are targeted to accommodate four primary missions:

  • Middle Mile: $121.6 million to build and improve connections to communities lacking broadband access.
  • Last Mile: $51.4 million to connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to the middle mile network points.
  • Public Computing: $7.3 million to expand computer center capacity for public use in libraries, community colleges and other public venues.
  • Sustainable Adoption: $2.4 million to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand "with population groups where the technology has traditionally been under-utilized."

While many states and small telcos fared well in the first round of funding, a report in Cable Digital News revealed that cable got the short end of the stick.

Although large cable operators such as Comcast decided not to participate, an American Cable Association (ACA) survey revealed that of the 83 smaller cable operators that applied for stimulus funding, the only smaller cable operator to get funding was Pine Telephone Co. Pine Telephone received a $9.5 million grant to offer UMTS 3G-based wireless broadband services to a remote and "severely economically disadvantaged community" of 7,815 homes in Southeast Oklahoma.

For more:
- AP has a report on the funding awards here
- Cable Digital News has this perspective

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