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Economic Stimulus package a victory for Speed Matters

13 Feb, 2009

The economic stimulus package that passed the House and Senate last week and scheduled to be signed by President Obama today is a victory for all of us who have worked so hard to get high speed Internet access to all Americans.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates a total of $7.2 billion for grants for programs to increase the deployment and adoption of high speed Internet.

The grant funding is split between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), with $4.7 billion, and the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, with $2.5 billion. The NTIA's funds will go to grants designed to improve broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas, increase broadband adoption, improve access to broadband by public safety agencies and stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Grants will be awarded to state or local governments, non-profit organizations, or other entities (including broadband service and infrastructure providers) if approved by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce as being in the public interest. Each state must receive at least one grant project. Other criteria for grants include a commitment to "open Internet," increasing affordability and subscribership, enhancing health care, education or children's services and providing the greatest speed possible to the greatest number of users.

The NTIA is instructed to allocate $350 million of its funds towards the Broadband Data Improvement Act for mapping and community initiatives, at least $200 million to expand public computer center capacity in libraries and community colleges, and at least $250 million for programs encouraging broadband adoption.

Finally, as part of the stimulus package, the FCC must submit a report to Congress containing a national broadband plan that details the most effective mechanism to ensure broadband access for all Americans.


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