This week marked the announcement of the final BTOP Round 1 grants. "Last, but not least" certainly describes these awards. Among them are some very meritorious last mile infrastructure projects in Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington. In Puerto Rico, we are funding a project that will enable broadband providers, anchor institutions, and government entities to band together to deploy a wireless middle mile network across the island, enhancing access and reduce costs. In addition, the final Sustainable Broadband Adoption grant of Round 1 is a strong, comprehensive 31-state project to educate, connect, and help close the digital divide in low-income communities across the nation.
Overall, BTOP Round 1 involved 82 grants for $1.2 billion in federal funding. Almost every state in the nation will be impacted by these awards – either in terms of improved broadband capabilities, access to broadband at new or improved public computer centers, or by way of broadband education and training. Beneficiaries include rural areas, urban areas, tribal areas, low-income areas, the public safety community, the educational community, small businesses, minority businesses, and those with disabilities. We look forward to building on this strong foundation in the coming months.
Work is already well underway in processing Round 2 applications – input is coming in from states and tribes, and existing service providers are letting us know about the areas they serve. There won’t be any down time here at NTIA this summer, but we’re energized by the unique opportunity the Recovery Act provides to make significant near-term improvements in the country’s broadband landscape.
Angela Simpson is an adviser to the Assistant Secretary on broadband