The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) this week started handing out about $310 million in broadband stimulus money, the largest funding round so far.
The grants and loans went to a number of entities.
For example, an Alaskan telecom provider got $88.1 million to build a middle-mile network that will connect 65 towns and villages in the state to the Internet. An electric cooperative in Missouri received $19.1 million for a fiber-optic network. And a unit of TDS Telecommunications Corp. in Alabama will use $3.9 million in grants to build a DSL network.
The $310 million is part of the $7.2 billion set aside in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for broadband deployment. The RUS grants and loans are meant to add jobs and economic opportunities to rural and poor communities. The money will pay for projects including telemedicine, online distance learning and more.
“The awards for these broadband projects will support anchor institutions – such as libraries, public buildings and community centers – that are necessary for the viability of rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Applications for the next – and last – broadband funding stage are due by March 15.