Those of us fortunate enough to have quality broadband service in our homes and workplaces know that it opens educational, business and entertainment opportunities that can only be imagined by those still living in a “dial up” world. President Obama believes that all Americans should have access to Broadband, and today, through funding provided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we made a substantial down payment on the drive to provide Broadband to communities that have little or no access to the technology.
In Georgia earlier today, Vice President Biden joined the Governor in announcing the first group in a series of projects that are expected to provide job opportunities and boost economic development. In all, $7.2 billion in awards will be announced by the end of September, 2010. Funding is divided between the Department of Commerce and USDA.
As you may recall, earlier this year I traveled with other cabinet-level officials, on the “Rural Tour” to some of the most remote parts of America, including predominantly Native communities in western Alaska. I was told by a Native elder in Bethel that rural Alaska needs a partnership with government to promote development, and development is hindered by substandard communications services. It’s clear to me that residents of these isolated areas of our Nation will not be easily served, and will wait a long time for quality broadband without support from the Broadband Recovery Act initiative.
So it pleases me that one of the projects announced by the Vice President today is intended to provide $25.3 million in grant funds and leverage another $6.4 million to span 90,000 square miles of Southwest Alaska with a multi-mode 4G system that will link homes and businesses along with schools, health clinics and tribal facilities. Through the use of wireless and satellite technology, the project will provide advanced broadband services to over 50 predominantly Alaska Native communities, including two that I visited, Bethel and Hooper Bay. For a complete list of the projects announced today by the Vice President visit our Website.
Critical Broadband investments, like the ones announced by the Vice President will create jobs, stimulate the economy and lay a foundation for renewal of the American economy. Not only that, they will advance the President’s vision of bringing opportunity to all Americans and secure the United States place as a leader in the new knowledge-based economy.