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Obama to announce $795M in broadband grants

Updated: With quote from Obama and background on national efforts to expand broadband connections. Also added: A proposed appropriations cut of $602 million in Recovery Act broadband awards.

President Obama on Friday announced 66 new broadband grants and loans totaling $795 million, part of the administration's continued rollout of Recovery Act grants meant to expand high-speed Internet connections across the country.

The awards range from a $5.2 million network infrastructure grant in McCarthy, Alaska to $17.5 million to projects at 190 anchor community institutions in economically distressed areas of Washington D.C. The District government applied for the grant, saying the funds would help bring better Internet service to 650,000 residents and 30,000 businesses.

In a speech this morning at Andrews Air Force Base, Obama described how the awards will create 5,000 jobs immediately and more in the long term.

"And 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," he said. The announcement came amid a lackluster jobs report this morning, reported by my colleague Neil Irwin.

So far, the administration has doled out $2.7 billion in grants, which is less than half of the $7.2 billion set aside in the stimulus plan for broadband Internet projects. The new funding will come from the Department of Commerce. That agency's National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture have been responsible for the dispersement of stimulus funds.

On Thursday, Rep. David Obey, chairman of the appropriations committee, proposed that $602 million in broadband awards be trimmed and redirected toward funding deficits for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some critics say the broadband grants haven't resulted in the immediate jobs benefits that the stimulus plan was intended to generate. The administration will announce Friday, however, that the new awards will result in 5,000 immediate jobs. Joining Obama in the announcement was Commerce secretary Gary Locke and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.

The grants continue to focus on so-called middle-mile awards, to support the fiber networks that lead into communities and can be accessed by several business, schools, hospitals and homes. Analysts say middle-mile investments are a wiser allocation of funds than end-mile grants straight to people's doorsteps, which would be more costly.

The U.S. lags many countries' who have been for years proactive in getting high-speed Internet connections to its residents. The Federal Communications Commission has some apirational goals to correct that. But Finland, on Thursday, became the first nation in the world to makle 1 megabit speed connections to every home as a legal right.

Here's the roster of awards: (Broadband Award Roster.pdf)

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 2, 2010; 8:44 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC  
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Comments

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Thanks to Rick Santelli for that fantastic comment on the irresponsible, out-of control lunatic-left d-crat socialists.

Posted by: TeaPartyPatriot | July 2, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Please sir, Can I have some More?

Posted by: colleensdad | July 2, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It worked for FDR and electrification.

Posted by: dkp01 | July 2, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The Soviets used free vodka to keep the masses out of the streets. Obama will use faster download speeds for internet porn.

Posted by: ADNova | July 2, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Shows you how completely effed this country is....

Our "investment" in infrastructure is slightly less than Elin got in her divorce settlement.

This country is full of dopes.

Posted by: vze2r3k5 | July 2, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

DUMP OBAMA! CLINTON IN 2012!! THAT'S THE ONLY WAY WE DEMOCRATS CAN RETAIN POWER!!! OBAMA IS POISON TO THE PARTY!!!!

Posted by: georges2 | July 2, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This guy is completely oblivious to whats going. SMH!

Posted by: Sincear2021 | July 2, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Did China approve this?
The people certainly didn't.
Obama avoids the Federalist papers and opts instead for the Nationalist kingdom of kookery.

Posted by: dottydo | July 2, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

This just gets crazier every day.

Posted by: jonbonjovy | July 2, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

this is a page straight out of Lenin or Mao's playbook. Communist dictators always have good intentions and mean well when they try and artificially push infrastructure projects across the country. The problem is that top-down resource allocation, regardless of the "wisdom" behind it, is inefficient (to say the least) because of the unanticipated consequences that free markets largely mitigate.

Mao's great leap forward is a great example. His idea was to modernize the chinese economy by improving agricultural techniques, industrialization and other changes that most would consider good and forward thinking. Turns out, managing an economy is harder than it seems. Result: 20 million dead during the famine that followed. Obamas policies wont kill people, but theyve been tried before and do not work.

Posted by: batigol85 | July 2, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

batigol, how are these grants "top-down resource allocation" when localities had to apply for them? Aside from providing the funds and requiring that a project have at least some significance, this sounds pretty bottom-up to me.

Posted by: lpryluck1 | July 2, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

fool and welfare. grants for internet access when our people do not have jobs? this tops the give away of mortage loans to the stupid and greedy. incompetent ,dangerous administration. peanut man only had lust in his heart. what say you odumbo?

Posted by: pofinpa | July 2, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Ethanol, Agricultural subsidies and Broadband are major boondoggles that might bankrupt our country. We constantly buy Senate seats by over subsidizing the rural population. We need to focus stimulus on the majority of the people - in urban areas. If country folks don't like their internet service, they can move.

Posted by: twstroud | July 2, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Who needs broadband? The problem with modern technology in general is that you're dependent on someone else.

Posted by: n7uno | July 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

This is an instance of waste. Most of this stuff will go to the mid-west and all they do is listen to Rush and Beck. Rush has his big print books and Beck has his connect the dots wall charts where 5 degrees of separation connects anyone on the planet to some sinister communist plot.

Posted by: James10 | July 2, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

How does he know it will create exactly 5000 jobs? Why are these exact numbers always a multiple on one thousand? I don't understand.

Posted by: brewstercounty | July 2, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Everyone should have good affordable broadband connection. If we dont do that and everybody else is , what do you Obama haters think will happen? Will you try to blame him for our economic failure? The internet in this country should have been improved when Bush was president and some idiots here still want to stall it. I am guesing they already have access and dont want poor folks to have a chance in life. Typical repub, greedy , self serving a-wholes.

Posted by: jimbobkalina | July 2, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

to james 10
One reason that the rural areas listen to Rush is because thats all there is on the radio and many of us cant get broadband because of idiots like you and the others here. I have been waiting for ten years and still cant get DSL or Cable. And some people wonder why they are reading the XRays and MRIs in India instead of here. Cant read MRIs with dialup folks.

Posted by: jimbobkalina | July 2, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

What a ridiculous boondoggle.

I hate to agree with Obey, but yes, for God's sake, stop this madness and apply the amount to the deficit.

Posted by: thebump | July 2, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Moonbat: "I have been waiting for ten years and still cant get DSL or Cable."

Then move.

And if it's not important enough for you to move, then it's not important enough for me to pay for.

Posted by: thebump | July 2, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Spend, spend, spend. And when you run out of money, spend some more.

Worst. President. Ever.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 2, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Obama for knowing how important equal access to information is for the future of our country.
It seems strange to me that Obama is blamed for the mess we are in. The other day I heard someone seriously blame the lateness of the train on Obama, even though they knew a bridge was being painted at the time!
And the shrieking about spending... you all sound the same, like parrots. Whose words are you repeating?

Posted by: cbrown9 | July 5, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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