The Agriculture Department is handing out another $310 million in stimulus money to bring high-speed internet connections to 14 rural communities around the country, reports the Associated Press. The awards announced Jan. 25 amount to the largest round of government funding for broadband since Congress included $7.2 billion for high-speed networks and adoption programs in last year’s stimulus bill. Including the latest round of funding, the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service has doled out $363.7 million for 22 broadband projects across the country. The Agriculture Department will award a total of $2.5 billion in stimulus money for broadband programs. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, is handing out the remaining $4.7 billion in broadband stimulus funding. As of last week, NTIA had awarded roughly $200 million in grants for 15 projects. Applications for the next and final round of broadband funding are due by March 15. Demand for the broadband money has been intense, far outstripping the amount available. The Commerce and Agriculture departments already have received nearly 2,200 applications requesting a total of $28 billion…

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staff and wire services reports