President Obama announces rural broadband grants

President Barack Obama has announced nearly $800 million in loans and grants for the build-out of broadband networks to reach homes, schools and hospitals.

The grants and loans, which will be matched by another $200 million in private investment, is part of Obama’s roughly $800 billion federal stimulus package, which includes $7.2 billion for broadband expansion projects. Obama said the 66 new infrastructure projects will directly create 5,000 jobs and help spur economic development in some of the nation’s hardest-hit communities…

The departments of Agriculture and Commerce are administering a total of $7.2 billion in grants and loans for projects in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Increasing broadband access to rural and low-income families and small businesses is a major part of the National Broadband Plan issued by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year…

The projects Obama announced will include laying communications lines to homes, hospitals and schools and expanding computer facilities in libraries, community colleges and other public areas…

“Broadband can remove geographic barriers between patients and their doctors,’ Obama said. “It can connect our kids to the digital skills and 21st century education required for the jobs of the future.”

I’ve had some reasonably humorous discussions with county officials in my neck of the prairie. They’re pretty much headed in the right direction at trying to fill in the broadband gaps in a county that is 2,000 square miles – with about 100,000 people outside the limits of the one for-real city in the county.

That city being Santa Fe. You know. The city where the Council is worried about the 30 people who have complained that wifi and cellphones – in their neighborhoods – is eating their brains. A truly chickenshit New Age political question.

Anyway, the two biggest problems the county has are [1] filling out all the bloody federal paperwork and [2] trying to keep our own solutions separate from whatever the city wants to do. Or not do.

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