Obama’s Stimulus Bill Includes $7.2 Billion For Broadband Access

When President Barack Obama signed that $787 Billion dollar Stimulus bill earlier this week, it had one item that should interest tech loving Americans. $7.2 Billion will be used to ensure that every American has broadband access:

The bulk of the funds directed at broadband–$4.7 billion–will be distributed through a program run by the Commerce Department, while $2.5 billion will fall under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department, giving particular emphasis to broadband deployment in rural areas.

The final version of the bill maintains that projects funded by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration must adhere to nondiscrimination and openness principles. The funds must also be distributed before September 30, 2010, to projects that can be completed within two years.

This is great, but there is one downer to this bill:

The NTIA’s “Broadband Technology Opportunities Program” is intended to “award competitive grants to accelerate broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas and to strategic institutions that are likely to create jobs or provide significant public benefits,” the bill says.

No part of the bill, however, defines the terms “broadband,” “unserved area,” or “underserved area.” The NTIA is instructed to work with the Federal Communications Commission to define these terms.

So, there still seems to be some work to do. Still, this is a major step forward for the US, assuming that it actually happens as planned.

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