July 6, 2010
Nearly $800 million in new loans and grants to expand broadband connections has been announced by President Obama, who previously had committed $7.2 billion to bring broadband to underserved Americans.
The President said the 66 new infrastructure projects would result in the direct creation of 5,000 jobs while also working to help economic development in many of the nation's communities that are suffering the most from the economic recession. "Once we emerge from the immediate crisis, the long-term economic gains to communities that have been left behind in the digital age will be immeasurable," Obama said as he announced the new broadband grants and awards. The new grants provide something for every state in the union as well as for the District of Columbia. The United States continues to drop behind other nations in broadband access and Obama and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski have vowed to improve the country's access to broadband. The new grants will focus on middle-mile awards, supporting fiber networks, for instance, that will bring high-speed Internet to more Americans, who will benefit from broadband access through libraries, hospitals, and businesses. The federal government has been releasing the broadband funds gradually and their allocation now totals some $2.7 billion of the $7.2 billion that has been earmarked in stimulus grants for broadband access. However, in a development that could be counterproductive to broadband stimulus, the congressional appropriations committee has recently suggested that $602 million scheduled to be earmarked for broadband grants be redirected to fund deficits accumulated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Earlier this month, the Obama administration said it plans to auction off some government and broadcasters' spectrum that is not currently being utilized efficiently.
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