First broadband stimulus grant winners announced

The Twittersphere is aglow with news reports that the federal government is finally announcing the winners of Round 1 of the broadband stimulus funding. Among the first announcements:

  • The Biddeford Internet Corporation, a public-private partnership between service providers and the University of Maine, will receive a $25.4 million Recovery Act grant to construct middle-mile infrastructure across rural Maine.
  • Two of the middle-mile infrastructure awards announced today will go to public-private partnerships. One of these awards is a $39.7 million grant to build middle-mile infrastructure in rural upstate New York. The grantee is a partnership between ION, a for-profit company based in the capital of Albany, and the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC), a public benefit corporation. These entities have pooled their resources and knowledge of upstate rural markets to develop a regional broadband plan that will immediately connect more than 100 community institutions, including libraries, state and community colleges, and health clinics. The project will also enable last-mile connections to 250,000 households and 38,000 businesses. In combination with ION and DANC’s existing broadband networks, this new middle-mile network will help facilitate service to a majority of rural areas in New York, as well as parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont.
  • The North Georgia Network Cooperative will receive a $33.5 million grant to deploy middle-mile infrastructure to eight counties in the impoverished Appalachian region of northern Georgia and North Carolina. The 260-mile fiber-optic ring is expected to deliver broadband speeds and reliability never previously available in the area. The fiber ring will directly connect 245 community institutions, including public schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, and government facilities. The proposed fiber ring also includes 2,600 interconnection points that will allow Internet service providers to build out last-mile connections to end users. The middle-mile ring will provide broadband services with greater speeds and reliability to the struggling Appalachian communities of northern Georgia, creating jobs and introducing unprecedented opportunities for economic development. This project will also deliver last- mile service to approximately 24,000 households in previously inaccessible and unaffordable areas.
  • The Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records has also received a grant. It will help 84 public libraries in the state enhance service to their communities with additional public-access computers in their institutions. Located in areas where citizens have very limited access to computers or the Internet, the expanded capacity at these libraries will provide residents with access to a wide range of online resources, including government, business, and health information, while also facilitating training for job searches and skill development. The libraries will partner with a variety of government, not-for-profit, and tribal organizations in serving residents. The Arizona State Library expects the computer centers to serve more than 75,000 users per week and more than 450,000 residents in total.
  • The Consolidated Electric Cooperative (CEC) will receive a grant/loan combination of $2.4 million to construct a 166-mile middle-mile network in North Central Ohio. The project will bring major-city connectivity into underserved areas and connect anchor institutions and the facilities of wireless Internet service providers. Lack of available fiber has been a barrier to economic development in the North Central Ohio area, but through this project CEC will be able to sell fiber to customers and to providers planning to offer last-mile service to the area. In addition, the CEC network will connect all 16 of its electric substations to support its Smart Grid technology initiative, facilitating the implementation of cutting-edge green technology and supporting economic development in the region.
  • The Administration will award a last-mile grant to Rivada Sea Lion, an Alaska Native Corporation, to provide 4G wireless high-speed broadband Internet service to approximately 30,000 residents in 53 unserved, subsistence level communities in southwestern Native Alaska. Rivada will design, engineer, and construct a multi-mode 4G last-mile remote network that spans 90,000 square miles and connects homes and businesses as well as anchor institutions such as health clinics, schools, and tribal government facilities. By using wireless and satellite technology rather than copper or fiber, the project will provide the first broadband services to these Native Alaskan communities at relatively low cost.
  • The Administration will also award a last-mile grant to the Bretton Woods Telephone Company in New Hampshire for a “fiber-to-the-home” project. This project will provide broadband to end users in the Bretton Woods community, a remote area in northern New Hampshire with a tourism-based economy. It will pass 386 households, 19 businesses, and six community anchor institutions, allowing all potential customers to receive two-way broadband service of up to 20 Mbps. The improved network is expected to encourage tourism and promote development of the local Bretton Woods economy.

These are just the first announcements, more to come. Source of the text above is RECOVERY ACT INVESTMENTS IN BROADBAND: LEVERAGING FEDERAL DOLLARS TO CREATE JOBS AND CONNECT AMERICA (download from Scribd).

* Note: I will be publishing a report on projects I consider to be truly innovative and exciting. Email me if you want me to send you the report.

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