New Hope for Internet-Challenged Rural Areas with the Economic Stimulus Bill
With President Barack Obama’s approval of the new economic stimulus bill, rural areas now have more reason to hope of gaining greater and better Internet access. Of the $787B set aside for this plan, $7.2B shall be devoted to improving Internet access for the benefit of hospitals, community centers, colleges, agricultural groups, and so forth in rural areas.
Division of Funds
The National Telecommunication and Information Administration, which is under the Department of Commerce, will receive $4.7B of the stated amount. The remaining $2.5B will be allocated to the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Program.
Both federal agencies will soon publish guidelines for awarding Internet grants. According to Mark Seifert, a telecommunications unit senior adviser at the Department of Commerce, “A large broadband pipe allows for lots of silos in various communities to come together. We are trying to incentivize that sort of forward looking thinking for those communities.” If Seifert’s words prove true, improved broadband connection shall then allow diverse groups to work together and possibly create more job opportunities in their respective fields and regions.
Who Would Benefit?
Internet grants offered may be taken up by companies of all sizes and from various industries. Large players like Comcast Corp. (CMCSA, CMCSK), AT and T, and Verizon Communications will, as always, have key opportunities to take advantage of the economic stimulus plan although these companies have already expressed their worries over the possibility of the government prioritizing competitors in projects where their respective companies have already considerable money invested.
Midsized players like Level 3 Communications Inc. as well as wireless firms such as Sprint Nextel Corp. may also benefit from these funds. Even private investors are encouraged, especially if their proposed projects target areas which already enjoy at least limited Internet connection or those that could also receive funding from other departments included in the economic stimulus bill.
A good example of this would be the “shovel ready” road projects under the Transportation Department. Laying Internet cable under newly paved or constructed roads is sure to cost significantly less compared to other projects.
Projects under the Housing and Urban Development Department would also have excellent chances of receiving Internet grants. Projects that could provide Internet access while improving electrical connections at the same time are sure to enjoy greater likelihood of having their grant applications approved.
Application Starts Soon
Both agencies are currently working on providing the public with a single electronic form for applicants, regardless of which of the two agencies they are applying grants to, in the hopes of making the process accessible and user-friendly for everyone.
Meanwhile, if you require instant Internet connection at your home, your most optimal choice would be HughesNet Satellite Internet. Compared to ADSL, service providers such as GlobalCom, HughesNet won’t require you to wait for installation of cable lines or other sorts of infrastructure. You can get connected the moment you want it anywhere you want it.
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