U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary locke announced nine American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare across the country. The investments, totaling more than $114 million in grants, will increase broadband access and adoption in more than a dozen states. The grants will fund projects that lay the groundwork to bring enhanced high-speed Internet access to thousands of households and businesses and link hundreds of schools, hospitals, libraries and public safety offices to the information superhighway.

“In a globalized 21st-century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides,” Locke said.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the ARRA, provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

The announcement marks the final grant awards from the first round of BTOP applications. All told, NTIA awarded 82 BTOP grants worth $1.2 billion that will expand broadband access and adoption through projects in a majority of states and territories. This round of BTOP grants will affect a total of 45 states and territories. NTIA recently began reviewing second-round applications.

“The level of interest in this program has been extraordinary and is yet another indicator of the critical role broadband plays in achieving durable, sustainable economic growth,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, NTIA administrator and assistant secretary for communications and information.
In any case, the broadband industry will see stimulated growth, and it may be worth looking in to and getting ready for projects in the near future.