Pennsylvania is the latest state to announce that it has filed a $100 million plus broadband stimulus program application, seeking funds from the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities (BTOP) program and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). Missouri, Maryland, New Mexico, and Massachusetts are also a part of the $100 million broadband stimulus application club. A total $7.2 billion has been allocated to the broadband-related economic recovery and stimulus programs established under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Governor Edward G. Rendell on August 24 announced that Pennsylvania has filed seven broadband grant applications totaling $108 million. Governor Rendell has high hopes for broadband. He claims expanding broadband access will ‘save existing and create new jobs, help pull the state out of recession, spur advances in science, health and education, and provide long-term benefits in rural and urban communities.’
“Broadband Internet access is as crucial to competitiveness as are skilled workers, transportation, water and energy,” Governor Rendell said. “You can’t overstate its impact on public services, local economies and quality of life. These federal dollars offer an unprecedented opportunity for Pennsylvania to extend the strides we’ve already made in making broadband available to everyone.”
The seven grant applications include:
- Projects to connect 514 schools, libraries, colleges and universities to a broadband network aimed at closing the “digital divide”;
- Extend broadband services to some 988,000 households,202,000 businesses, 1,222 public safety agencies; 1,180 educational organizations and 255 health care facilities in under- and unserved areas of northern Pennsylvania;
- A state Dept. of Education program to train some 1,500 teachers and education professionals to make effective use of broadband for education and training;
- A Dept. of Community and Economic Development program to be carried out by 13 economic development organizations that aims to help communities, businesses, first responders and “anchor” institutions;
- Extend broadband access beyond classrooms into libraries and community colleges by providing equipment, software, training, technical support, management and oversight;
- Helping fund an existing program to map broadband availability state-wide; and
- A Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs program to provide access, education and training 1,500 residents at the state’s six veteran’s homes.