USDA bankrolls another $310 million in broadband grants

Just as it drafted letters to those who did not make the cut in the first round of funding awards, the USDA announced on Monday the awardees of $310 million in grants--the largest amount of funding to be doled out since it launched the funding program last year--to service providers that operate in 14 rural communities.

"This big batch of projects will create urgently needed jobs now and also build networks that will fuel rural economic development for years to come," said Jonathan Adelstein in a release.

Included in the latest round were a mix of incumbent phone companies and electric utilities building out middle and last mile networks. Among the winners were Alaskan-based carrier GCI, which will use its $88 million grant to build a middle mile network connecting 65 towns in Southwestern Alaska. Other awardees included a Missouri electric cooperative who will use their $19.1 million grant to build a fiber network that will connect 5,000 homes, businesses, public safety agencies in Ralls County, Mo.

During the second round, the Agriculture Department will focus on last mile projects, while the Commerce Department will focus on "middle mile" projects. In addition, Commerce will award some funding for computing centers in libraries, colleges and other public places as well as programs that show people how to use the Internet.

For more:
- CED via AP has this article

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