U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke yesterday announced 10 new Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants totaling $357 million. The BTOP grants hope to bring broadband access to millions of households, businesses and public institutions in California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Secretary Locke traveled to Pittsburgh, Pa. and Wheeling, W. Va., where he was joined by federal, state and local government representatives, to announce four of the grant awards. The two Pennsylvania grants, totaling $128 million, aim to bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 3 million households and some 400,000 businesses.
By far the larger of the two W. Va. grants, the Executive Office of the State of West Virginia was awarded a $126.3 million grant, along with an additional $33.5 million in funds provided by the applicants, to upgrade and expand the state’s microwave public safety network. The project includes laying some 2,400 miles of fiber optic cable with the resulting network being able to offer transmission speeds of 45 Mbps. More than 1,000 “anchor institutions”–public safety agencies, public libraries, schools, government offices and other community facilities–will be connected directly to the network.
All of the awards in this round are detailed below:
- California: Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino: $1.2 million public computer center grant with an additional $500,000 applicant-provided match to expand and enhance the services of five computer centers located in public housing developments in San Bernardino County. The centers will add 25 new workstations, increase broadband speeds to 1.5 Mbps at each center, extend operating hours, provide a range of online training workshops, and serve more than 350 additional users per week.
- Florida: North Florida Broadband Authority: $30.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $9.2 million applicant-provided match to bring high-speed broadband services to underserved areas in 14 North Central Florida counties through the deployment of an 1,200-mile fixed wireless broadband network. The network plans to directly connect more than 300 community anchor institutions, such as public schools, universities, libraries, healthcare facilities, public safety organizations, and government agencies, at speeds of 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
- Indiana: Zayo Bandwidth, LLC: $25.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $10.7 million applicant-provided match to directly connect 21 Ivy Tech Community College campuses to the state’s existing high-speed network for education and research, known as the I-Light network. The project plans to deploy a 626-mile fiber-optic network to provide 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps connections between the Ivy Tech campuses and the 42 colleges and universities already on the I-Light network, which will advance research, education, and economic opportunities throughout Indiana.
- Louisiana: State Library of Louisiana: $8.8 million public computer center grant with an additional $2.4 million applicant-provided match to distribute more than 760 computer workstations to every library in the state library system, enabling the system at large to serve an additional 42,000 computer users per week. The project expects to establish wireless hotspots and deliver broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps in each location, as well as deploy four mobile computer labs to provide enhanced training opportunities.
- New York: New York State Education Department: $9.5 million public computer center grant with an additional $5.4 million applicant-provided match to provide more than 860 computers in 30 libraries and five mobile training centers across 41 economically distressed Upstate New York counties. This grant will allow libraries to extend hours, provide 24/7 access to job search resources, and serve an estimated 50,000 additional users per week system-wide.
- Pennsylvania: Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research: $99.7 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $29 million applicant-provided match to create the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN). With nearly 1,700 miles of fiber, the network expects to expand broadband Internet access and directly connect 60 critical community anchor institutions in 39 counties across south and central Pennsylvania. PennREN will enhance healthcare delivery, research, education, workforce development, and public safety by delivering broadband speeds of 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps.
- Pennsylvania: Executive Office of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: $28.8 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $7.2 million applicant-provided match to increase broadband Internet connection speeds for community anchor institutions and underserved areas isolated by difficult, mountainous terrain in northern Pennsylvania. The project will leverage Pennsylvania’s existing microwave public safety communications network by adding a parallel 150 Mbps Ethernet backbone stretching 649 miles across the state, as well as 612 miles of fixed wireless links.
- West Virginia: Executive Office of the State of West Virginia: $126.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $33.5 million applicant-provided match to bring highspeed Internet access to this vastly underserved region by expanding the state’s existing microwave public safety network and adding about 2,400 miles of fiber. The expanded statewide network expects to offer speeds of up to 45 Mbps and directly connect more than 1,000 anchor institutions, including public safety agencies, public libraries, schools, government offices and other critical community facilities.
- West Virginia: Future Generations Graduate School: $4.5 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $1.2 million applicant-provided match to implement a community-based approach to encouraging broadband adoption among low-income and predominantly rural communities across West Virginia. The project will work through volunteer fire and emergency rescue stations, equipping each participating squad with computer workstations that will be available to the public, and setting up training programs. In addition, the project will support a broadband awareness campaign that will include peer-to-peer outreach, newspaper and radio advertisements, signage to promote services, social networking, and a support Web site.
- Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin Department of Administration: $22.9 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $5.7 million applicant-provided match to directly connect 385 libraries, 74 school districts, and eight community colleges (including two tribal colleges) to the existing high-speed BadgerNet Converged Network by deploying 203 miles of new fiber connections. The new connections are expected to provide schools and libraries with enhanced broadband speeds of between 20 Mbps and 100 Mbps, strengthening their ability to benefit underserved communities throughout the state.
“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,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. “Like the grants announced today, the strongest proposals are the ones that have taken a truly comprehensive view of the communities to be served and have engaged as many key members of the communities as possible in developing the projects.”