Vice President Joe Biden today announced the first $182 million in federal stimulus money for 18 projects to expand high-speed Internet networks in rural areas and other underserved communities.
The projects are the first part of a $7.2 billion plan to bring high-speed Internet connections to rural areas, poor neighborhoods and Native American communities.
The first set of projects will take place in Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Arizona and Alaska. The Obama administration hopes that such an expansion could help smaller businesses compete globally as well as contribute to the future success of the country's manufacturing industry and middle class.
Congress included $7.2 billion for broadband projects in the stimulus bill to create jobs and bring new economic opportunities to parts of the country left behind in today's digital age.
Demand for the broadband money has been intense — far outstripping the amount of federal dollars available. The Commerce and Agriculture Departments received nearly 2,200 applications submitted by local governments, inner-city community groups, rural cooperatives, non-profits and for-profit corporations in every corner of the country. They asked for a total of $28 billion to pay for fiber-optic lines, wireless clouds, computer labs, Internet training programs, municipal communications networks and a range of other projects to bridge the so-called digital divide.