Obama announces broadband grants to spur jobs

WASHINGTON Fri Jul 2, 2010 11:25am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Friday nearly $800 million in loans and grants for the build-out of broadband networks to reach homes, schools and hospitals.

The grants and loans, which will be matched by another $200 million in private investment, is part of Obama's roughly $800 billion federal stimulus package, which includes $7.2 billion for broadband expansion projects.

Obama said the 66 new infrastructure projects will directly create 5,000 jobs and help spur economic development in some of the nation's hardest-hit communities.

The announcement comes amid news that U.S. employment fell for the first time this year in June as thousands of temporary census jobs ended and private hiring grew less than expected.

"Once we emerge from the immediate crisis, the long-term economic gains to communities that have been left behind in the digital age will be immeasurable," Obama said at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

The departments of Agriculture and Commerce are administering a total of $7.2 billion in grants and loans for projects in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Increasing broadband access to rural and low-income families and small businesses is a major part of the National Broadband Plan issued by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year.

The FCC plan set several goals to increase the number of people who have subscribed to high-speed Internet, provide greater access to families and institutions that lack broadband and help wireless companies get more airwaves to meet the expected growth in wireless devices.

The projects Obama announced will include laying communications lines to homes, hospitals and schools and expanding computer facilities in libraries, community colleges and other public areas.

The White House said with Friday's projects, more than $2.7 billion in broadband grants and loans will have been awarded to more than 260 projects across the country since December 2009.

"Broadband can remove geographic barriers between patients and their doctors,' Obama said. "It can connect our kids to the digital skills and 21st century education required for the jobs of the future."

(Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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Comments (6)
Richardhg wrote:
Exactly who is getting these grants? If it is going to the communications companies that have carved up the country into their own personal fiefdoms, it will not benefit anybody. More minimal service for maximal charges.

Jul 02, 2010 10:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Zardoz02 wrote:
Wonderful for Comcast and AT&T! Comcast introduced Xfinity recently, which is basically a way to add another massive charge to your already high monthly bill. Comcast spends millions advertising OnDemand, and when I check the listings for free movies, I haven’t heard of a single one – garbage! All good movies are Pay per View, i.e. potentially fraudulent advertising.

Billing practices are even worse! You don’t even know what you owe, because every customer is charged an arbitrary amount by both companies, even for the exact same service. No two customer’s bills will be the same. Both do not fairly disclose billing practices or fees, but rather advertise $19.99/month, then the sky is the limit once you sign up! AT&T is well known for extremely outdated and insufficient infrastructure (i.e. cell towers) to support its vast network. And its new $325 early cancellation fee.

Many local governments, like my small town in IL, for xample, are in the back pocket of such companies, as Comcast is the only cable provider allowed by city code, even if there were any competition or choice for the consumer.

Both companies spit in the face of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Why is Comcast allowed to operate under the anti-competitive guise of a public utility, when it is a predatory private company whose only service is completely unnecessary?

Why not reward their bilking of the consumer with even more free money! They will start with big CEO bonuses, then trickle down from there. Workers or consumers (i.e. peons) will never see a dime of this money or any benefit from it.

Jul 02, 2010 12:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
I wonder how many H1 Visas will be granted to Indians and how many jobs will go to call centers in India. But the grant money will definitely go to a few privileged CEOs.

Jul 02, 2010 9:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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