Biden announces $1.8 billion broadband stimulus awards

I  just got done posting news about the broadband stimulus awards to non-profit organizations in North Carolina and Cleveland, Ohio. They are only part of a bigger announcement in which Vice President Joe Biden revealed the 94 Recovery Act investments in broadband projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states — an investment totaling $1.8 billion. This is part of a nearly $7 billion Recovery Act initiative. A complete list of projects receiving Recovery Act broadband grant awards today can be viewed in full here.

Among the lucky winners are:

  • Motorola: This approximately $50.6 million award, with nearly $21.9 million in matching contributions, will allow public safety entities in the San Francisco area to deploy an interoperable wireless public safety broadband network. The project plans to serve 200 existing public safety sites and up to 50,000 public safety users in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. As many as 6 million people stand to benefit from this project.
  • California Broadband Cooperative: This approximately $81.1 million award will allow the California Broadband Cooperative to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in California and Nevada. The project plans to directly connect 230 community institutions to broadband. As many as 62,400 people stand to benefit as do 2,500 businesses. In addition to the more than 400 jobs the California Broadband Cooperative estimates the project will create, it will provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come.

“Today’s investment in broadband technology will create jobs across the country and expand opportunities for millions of Americans and American companies. In addition to bringing 21st century infrastructure to underserved communities and rural areas, these investments will begin to harness the power of broadband to improve education, health care, and public safety,” said Vice President Biden. “The awards are another great example of how the Recovery Act is creating jobs upfront, while also building a foundation for sustainable job creation and global competitiveness.”

The projects receiving funds today are part of a program – administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) – to expand broadband access and adoption across the country.

“The broadband investments announced today are going to put people to work in the near term, but they also will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth down the road,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These projects will connect Americans who have for too long been without the full economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet access – access central to success in the 21st Century.”

“The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, public safety and community centers – to provide services to thousands of Americans. These projects will create jobs building these networks, and the completed systems will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come.”

Today’s announcement includes 66 grants awarded by the Commerce Department for projects to deploy broadband infrastructure and connect community anchor institutions to broadband, create and upgrade public computer centers, and encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband service. It also includes 28 awards from USDA for broadband infrastructure and satellite projects that will provide rural residents in 16 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

The Department of Commerce awards also contain grants for public safety broadband networks that will improve response times and communication at the scene of emergencies. These projects constitute a critical set of demonstration projects and a head start on President Obama’s commitment to support the development of a nationwide, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network. Read the full description of these public safety awards.

According to an analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that are being left behind in the new knowledge-based economy. Recovery Act broadband projects help bring down the cost of private investment, attract Internet service providers to new areas, improve digital literacy among students and workers, and help create new opportunities in employment, education, and entrepreneurship by wiring homes and businesses. With new or increased broadband access, communities can compete on a level playing field to attract new businesses, schools can create distance learning opportunities, medical professionals can provide cost-efficient remote diagnoses and care, and business owners can expand the market for their products beyond their neighborhoods to better compete in the global economy.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on February 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so that the country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.