The U.S. Department of Commerce announced on Monday the final 14 recipients of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments to increase broadband access and use. In total, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have invested nearly $7 billion, including nearly $4 billion in 233 BTOP-funded projects reaching every state. But as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling noted in the announcement, “NTIA’s work is far from over.” Now, NTIA’s efforts will shift to overseeing the completion of the projects funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grants, making sure that each comes in on schedule and within budget, and delivers the promised benefits to the communities they serve.
The Commerce Department’s news release provided a summary of data, based on estimates provided by the grant recipients themselves, describing the 233 BTOP projects and what they will accomplish once completed:
- Fund the installation or upgrade of approximately 120,000 miles of broadband networks, including fiber-optics, wireless, microwave, and other technologies. Of this amount, approximately 70,000 miles involve construction of new broadband facilities.
- Provide broadband access to approximately 24,000 community anchor institutions, including schools, libraries, government offices, health care facilities, and public safety entities. Of these, approximately:
- 3,000 are healthcare entities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices
- 5,000 are public safety entities, such as first responders, fire, police, and EMS
- 7,000 are K-12 schools
- 600 are community colleges
- 2,000 are libraries
- 5,000 are government facilities, such as City and County offices, workforce centers, Head Start locations, and other entities providing important benefits to the public
- 700 are other institutions of higher education, including public universities
- Deploy middle mile infrastructure in areas with nearly 40 million households and 4 million businesses, many of which will benefit from new or improved broadband service provided by last-mile providers that are able to utilize the new, open infrastructure to extend or upgrade their service for consumer and business customers.
- Invest in more than 3,500 new or upgraded public computer centers in libraries, schools, community centers and other public locations.
- Invest in more than 35,000 new or upgraded public computer workstations.
- Make public computer center workstations and training available to more than 1 million new users.
NTIA’s Strickling will be one of the featured speakers at this week’s Symposium, “Toward Healthy Informed Communities: The Knight Commission Report One Year Later” which takes place on September 29 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The event, which will be livestreamed here at www.knightcomm.org, marks the Report’s first anniversary with a discussion among key leaders and the unveiling of a new report on the policy reforms needed to achieve universal broadband access in the United States, a key recommendation of the Knight Commission.