Broadband Grants Will Help Close Digital Divide
We’d like to thank the Internet Innovation Alliance for hosting an informative discussion about the broadband provisions contained in the Recovery Act this morning. Recovery Act broadband stimulus funds will help nonprofit organizations, state governments and other eligible entities to eliminate the digital divide in Latino and other unserved and underserved communities.
The legislation allocates $7.2 billion for broadband stimulus activities. The funds will be managed and disbursed by the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utility Service (RUS) of the USDA. Of the $7.2 billion, $4.7 billion will be awarded in the form of grants by the NTIA. The RUS will oversee $2.5 billion in grants and loans. All funding must be awarded by September 2010.
Broadband stimulus funding will address both demand and supply-side barriers to broadband access and use. The NTIA funds will be used for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to “develop and expand broadband services to unserved and underserved areas” and for “innovative programs that encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services”. The RUS appropriation will support broadband network construction with priority given to rural projects and projects in unserved areas.
IIA Chair and former NTIA administrator Larry Irving noted that 5% of Americans have no broadband access available to them, while 45% do not subscribe to broadband even though access is an option. While income, education, and acculturation levels affect broadband adoption, Irving maintains that many who choose not to have broadband do so because they “do not see the value” of the service, not because the service is financially out of reach. He encouraged nonprofit organizations, particularly those who work in digitally unserved and underserved communities to apply for the program to address these and other issues which affect broadband adoption. Nonprofit organizations have the expertise to develop and implement digital literacy programs that will resonate with their communities.
For more information about the Internet Innovation Alliance and broadband stimulus funding, visit www.internetinnovation.org. Federal information about the program is available at www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/