Recovery Act investment to expand broadband Internet access spurs economic growth

The US Department of Commerce announced Recovery Act investments of $13.4 million in Utah and $11.9 million in Illinois to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced two American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) investments--$13.4 million in the state of Utah and $11.9 million in DeKalb County and portions of LaSalle County, Illinois--to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education.

The investment will allow the University of Utah to enhance and expand the Utah Education Network (UEN), which currently provides Internet service to more than 300 schools and other community anchor institutions. This project will extend fiber-based Ethernet broadband services to 130 additional elementary schools, public libraries, charter schools, and Head Start centers across the state, including a Head Start center that serves the Ute Indian Reservation. This project will significantly increase the speed and capacity of the Internet connections used at these locations by children, students, and teachers.

The Illinois broadband infrastructure grant will enable the deployment of a 130-mile fiber network across DeKalb County and northern LaSalle County, providing high-speed Internet connections to at least 60 anchor institutions, such as schools, hospitals, libraries, public safety entities, and numerous government agencies.

NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the Recovery Act, provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. NTIA received more than 1,800 applications proposing projects totaling nearly $19 billion during the first BTOP funding round and is currently awarding grants on a rolling basis. NTIA is currently accepting BTOP applications through March 15, 2010 for a second round of funding.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to NTIA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to fund projects that will expand access to and adoption of broadband services. Of that funding, NTIA will utilize $4.7 billion for grants to deploy broadband infrastructure in the United States, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. NTIA will announce all grant awards by September 30, 2010.

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