Feds announce billions available for broadband grants

Funding to spur expansion of high-speed broadband to rural areas

As much as $4 billion worth of grants and loans are now available to expand high-speed broadband service in rural and underserved areas, Vice President Joe Biden announced July 1.

It is the first of three anticipated rounds of funding under the economic stimulus law. A single application form will be available for the Commerce and Agriculture departments’ broadband programs.

Applications will be accepted from July 14 to Aug. 14, according to a 121-page Notice of Funding Availability published on July 1. Additional information is available on the broadband stimulus Web site, BroadbandUSA.gov.

The economic stimulus law provided $7.2 billion for broadband expansion under programs directed by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

NTIA will invest $4.7 billion to deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. The Rural Utilities Service will spend $2.5 billion to extend broadband to rural communities.

USDA also published a notice in the Federal Register July 1 stating that Buy American provisions have been waived for the broadband grants and loans because the provisions were deemed inconsistent with the goals of achieving widespread broadband capacity.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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