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Stimulus Attempts to Bring Broadband to Rural Areas

25 Feb, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

The $787 billion economic stimulus plan includes $7.2 billion to expand broadband access, in an attempt to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas of America.

Starting March 2 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will begin holding meetings with interested parties wishing to apply for grants related to the funds.

According to statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project — which tallied dial-up vs. broadband use across the country — 9% of adults are using dial-up, while 57% of urban residents and 60% of urban residents are using broadband. Fifty-five percent of all Americans have high-speed Internet access, up from 47% a year ago.

However, 25% of Americans aren’t using the Internet at all, and it’s not just due to age (Pew found that more than half of all Internet users are under the age of 44). Part of the problem is that in rural areas of the country, the infrastructure for broadband doesn’t exist. The stimulus funding provides for not only laying down the technology to bring broadband to underserved areas, but also maps areas that need broadband the most, such as those with schools or libraries.

Cable and telecommunications companies are expected to apply for the NTIA grants, with the Federal Communications Commission also overseeing grant distribution.

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