Charged with managing the distribution and administration of $2.5 billion in federal loans, grants and combinations thereof intended to bring broadband Internet to rural areas around the country as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service on June 7th released a full report of broadband stimulus program round 1 activity and results for its Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).
“Improving the quality of life for rural families and businesses is an important element of USDA’s mission. We view broadband as an essential ingredient. In administering this program, RUS is striving to create urgently needed jobs through the construction of these new networks, which in turn will provide the foundation for faster economic growth and job creation for years to come,” writes Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the RUS in the introduction of the report, which is entitled, “Connecting Rural America.”
Here’s a top-level breakdown of the $1.068 billion awarded to 68 BIP Round One recipients in 31 states and one US territory, more than half of which took the form of loans that will have to be repaid:
- 72% of awards/69% of dollars awarded ($739 million) for 49 last-mile non-remote projects that aim to bring broadband access to rural areas less than 50 miles from the nearest non-rural area;
- 19% of awards/15% of dollars awarded ($161 million) to 13 last-mile remote projects aimed at bringing broadband to remote users at least 50 miles from the nearest non-rural area;
- 9% of awards/16% of dollars awarded ($167 million) to six middle-mile projects to provide backbone services.
As a result, some 529,249 households, 92,754 businesses and 3,332 anchor institutions–schools, libraries, colleges, universities, health care and community service providers–stretching across more than 172,000 sq. miles will gain access to broadband services, according to the report. Approximately 5,000 jobs will be created.
Breaking the awards out by technology, those that entail making use of wireline fiber-optic cable–48–accounted for the largest share. Twenty-three involve wireless terrestrial fixed technology, 14 wireline xDSL, 5 wireless terrestrial mobile, 3 wireless hybrid systems, 2 wireline coaxial cable and 1 wireless satellite.
Beneficiaries of some $500 million in awards, 20 cooperative or mutual (public-private) ventures took down the largest share of the awards by dollar amount. Thirty-seven for-profit entities were awarded around $450 million, while four public entities were awarded more than $150 million. One (8)a firm, three Indian tribes and three non-profits accounted for the remainder.