On August 4th, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein announced the release of $1.2 billion for grants and loans to develop an additional 126 broadband infrastructure projects. The ARRA funded projects will create jobs and provide rural residents in 38 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service. An additional $117 million in private investment will be leveraged, bringing the total funds invested to $1.31 billion.
The announcement is part of a second round of USDA broadband funding through ARRA. USDA has provided loans and grants for $2.65 billion to construct 231 broadband projects in 45 states and one territory. The remaining authorized funds will allow an additional $1 billion in loans and grants by September 30, 2010 which means that between $3 and $4 billion of program activity will take place.
The investment in broadband will help first responders in rural and remote areas have the tools to keep their communities safe. According to Secretary Vilsack, “We will certainly work to advance rural healthcare to enable medical specialists to use telemedicine to provide advanced diagnosis for patients and for consultations. It will also provide another opportunity for HHS to encourage electronic medical recordkeeping in rural hospitals and in clinics.”