A $33.5 million grant to the North Georgia Network Cooperative for a fiber-optic ring will bring high-speed internet connections to the northern Georgia foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The project will serve an eight-county area with a population of 334,000.

A combined grant/loan of $2.4 million to the Consolidated Electric Cooperative in north central Ohio will fund construction of a 166-mile fiber network that will be used, among other things, to connect 16 electrical substations to support a smart grid project.

Other projects receiving funds include a 4G wireless network to be built by an Alaska Native Corporation in southwestern Alaska, a fiber-to-the-home project in a remote corner of New Hampshire, and computer centers for 84 libraries in Arizona.

Congress included $7.2 billion for broadband projects in the stimulus bill to create jobs and bring new economic opportunities to parts of the country left behind in today’s digital age.

That includes $4.7 billion to be awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, and $2.5 billion to be awarded by the Rural Utilities Service, part of the Agriculture Department.

Demand for the broadband money has been intense—far outstripping the amount of federal dollars available.

The Commerce and Agriculture Departments received nearly 2,200 applications submitted by local governments, inner-city community groups, rural cooperatives, nonprofits, and for-profit corporations in every corner of the country.

They asked for a total of $28 billion to pay for fiber-optic lines, wireless clouds, computer labs, internet training programs, municipal communications networks, and a range of other projects to bridge the digital divide.

The administration plans to award a total of $2 billion in grants and loans on a rolling basis over the next 75 days as it starts doling out the first round of broadband stimulus funding.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Links:

Broadband USA

University of Maine