States expand broadband access with stimulus dollars

Several states announced new broadband access plans last week. A national broadband expansion grants initiative was included in the federal stimulus package and a round of awards were given to states. Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon all announced awards in the tens of millions.

Iowa was awarded $90 million for a variety of projects designed to expand and improve broadband statewide. With that money the state will improve high-speed internet connections, fiber and fiber-to-the-premises networks and rural access. Nearly 500 jobs are expected to be created to facilitate the improvements and expansion.

Massachusetts received $45.5 million to expand broadband access in the Western and North-Central parts of the state. The grant award will be paired with state matched funds of $26.2 million, bringing the total investment in the project to $71.6 million. The state will create a new fiber network to connect areas currently without access.

New Hampshire received $44.5 million to implement their state broadband action plan designed to improve and expand the statewide fiber network. Ohio received $30 million to be administered through a public-private partnership, the Ohio Middle Mile Consortium (OMMC). The partnership plans to expand broadband access in western Ohio and create nearly 300 jobs in the process. Oregon was awarded $16 million for their expansion plans, these funds will also be partially matched with state funds.

The awards are the second round of the highly competitive Broadband Technology Opportunities Program managed through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Awards are decided through a competition that requires states to submit broadband action plans and compete against each other for the largest awards.

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