Coordinated by the state Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery (OESR), five Vermont organizations have applied for more than $130 million in broadband stimulus/recovery grants and loans, Chief Recovery Officer Tom Evslin announced Sept. 2. Vermont joins a variety of other states, including Missouri, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Mexico with stimulus applications north of $100 million.
Spanning projects that include continuation of a state-wide broadband mapping effort and a “sustainable broadband adoption” program to assure that residents in 24 pilot communities have broadband equipment, access and know-how, the applications taken together have the potential to reduce the number of Vermont households without broadband access to less than 5%. Currently, some 20% of Vermont residents lack broadband access, according to the OESR.
The grant and loan applications dovetail with and would provide the infrastructure necessary to see through the state’s SmartVermont plan, which aims to provide e-health, e-education, e-government services and a state-wide smart electrical grid.
“Taken as a whole these grants address the full range of things we need to do to build an e-state and bring its benefits to all of our citizens and businesses,” Evslin stated in a news release.
“The mapping program assures that we correctly identify needs and problems; the last mile programs provide physical broadband access where it is missing; the public computing centers serve those who don’t yet have broadband or computers to use it; and the sustainable adoption program helps remove barriers like lack of equipment and training and encourage civic use.”
Broadband stimulus/recovery grants and loans are way over-subscribed. With the application deadline for the first round of NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities and Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Initiatives Programs having just passed on August 20, the two federal agencies announced that nearly 22,000 applications totaling nearly $28 billion were filed, seven times the amount allocated.