Obama administration unveils high-speed Internet projects

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Vice President Joe Biden  August 18, announced recovery act funded investments in 94 projects to provide high-speed Internet access to communities in 37 states. So far some $7 billion in recovery act funds have been allocated for investments in broadband development.

Currently, 36 percent of Americans do not have access to high-speed Internet, government officials estimate.

The funds will come in the form of grants and loans, some of which leverage additional private investments, to private and public utility companies to lay fiber optic cables, build wireless transmission towers and purchase other technologies to provide high-speed Internet service to some 19 million people, 1.8 million businesses, and thousands of other "anchor institutions," like schools, local libraries, community centers, hospitals, and public safety facilities.

"Today's investment in broadband technology will create jobs across the country and expand opportunities for millions of Americans and American companies," Vice President Biden pointed out in a statement. "In addition to bringing 21st century infrastructure to underserved communities and rural areas, these investments will begin to harness the power of broadband to improve education, health care, and public safety."

On a conference call with reporters, Aug. 18, administration officials emphasized the role of the recovery act and investments like these in creating jobs.

Vice President Biden's top economic advisor, Jared Bernstein, told reporters that the recovery act has made a lot of progress, especially when compared to where the economy was when President Obama took office. "At that time, the depth of the recession was just becoming clear," he said. "We now know that the economy was contracting at the nightmarish rate of almost seven percent in 2008." And in the first six months of 2009 alone some 4 million jobs were lost.

The pace of the economic disaster was slowed and even turned around after President Obama signed the recovery act, Bernstein noted. "Over the past year, GDP has grown at the rate of three percent, and we've added over 600,000 private sector jobs," he said. The recovery act also played a role in protecting or creating about 3 million jobs, according to Congressional Budget Office data and other non-government studies.

"We need to grow faster and to create more jobs," he added, "but the huge swing here from negatives to positives is historically unprecedented."

He explained the recovery act has moved into the "investment" phase with billions for developments in clean energy and technology, high-speed rail, and the new broadband Internet projects just announced.

Bernstein also chastised Republican governors and state lawmakers who opposed the recovery act for ideological reasons and initially refused to accept funds from it. Their obstructionism likely slowed the return of economic growth for their states and localities.

"It's certainly the case if you were late to act on recovery act funds that were available to your community, you delayed job creation and that's a very significant cost to the workforces in those communities," he said.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said the new investments will build 25,000 miles of new broadband networks.

Responding to Republican charges that broadband access is a "luxury" in a time of high federal deficits, Locke stated that high-speed Internet is an important tool for business growth, education and job creation.

"When you talk to the small businesses I've come across throughout the country, for them, high-speed Internet service is a necessity," he said. Without broadband access, "they're losing orders. They're not able to market themselves. They're not able to transact with more customers or suppliers."

"For them, high-speed Internet is just as important as electrification was for the country in the 30's," Locke explained. Access to high-speed Internet will open up the world to small businesses, students seeking online education, and local institutions like schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, and public safety organizations.

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  • I live in Wisconsin, and as a freshman starting high school it is tough without any internet access at home. I just don't get enough time at school to work on projects, essays, and homework. Without internet access at home I am unable to work on my homework, which leads me to either going to a friends place for internet access or to a local library. With tax prices rising and with the economy I don't know what to do. If I had internet access I believe that it would be beneficial to my education and for other home uses. So, I'm hoping that the Recovery Act would begin very soon in Wisconsin, and everybody would be pleased.

    Posted by Kong lor, 02/14/2011 8:01pm (3 years ago)

  • I live in the Town of Cambridge, Washington County, New York. Residents in this area have been pleading with Verizon to give us High Speed Internet for 3 years. According to the Verizon Official of Government and External Affairs, there are no plans in the working for our area. Why I ask, is this service, in the Village of Cambridge, and surrounding rural communities? It would be of interest to me, to know, just how Verizon decides which areas they will provide with High Speed Internet.

    Posted by Linda Burgoyne, 02/11/2011 5:22am (3 years ago)

  • I live 4 miles outside of Carrollton Village, the thing I can't believe is that all through Carrollton and 2 miles away from me has high speed internet but where I live we can't get it. We have cell phones that say you can get internet on Verizon cell phones, so why can't Verizon get off their buts and get to this mile that doesn't have any high speed internet. Most internet is available for $19.99, but I have checked around and the companies want either $59.99-up. Why can't I get internet at the prices that others do around me, why do you either have to get satellite when we see we can get it on our cell phones (sometimes 2 bars on Verizon) so what is the problems with regular internet on my computers?
    When you call and try to sign up for the satellite companies, they always say that they have free installation, but when you get them to the house, they make up different excuses that they need more money, either they can't put it up on your asphalt roof or they can't put it on modular homes, then when you want to send it back they charge you a $50.00 re-stock fee, what a rip, so I figured that if I was gonna pay a restock fee might as well keep the dish.

    Posted by Denise, 01/31/2011 3:50pm (3 years ago)

  • Why is it that even after President Obama signed the Recovery Act for high-speed internet services, I am still unable to obtain such services? Even when I went the Hughes Satellite, internet service, and entered my address, it said that I was not covered for assistance. I live in the city of Wildwood, MO., which is just thirty miles west of St. Louis, MO. And in size, it is the largest city (per square mile) in Missouri. I do not have access to cable, or AT&T's broad band services; let alone, no natural gas. I even get the shaft job from AT&T, as they charge me an extra $20.00 per month, just so I can call St. Louis, and not have it be a toll call, and my friends can call me, without having to pay a toll. I live off a pension for being a 100% service connected, disabled veteran, so money is not a premium for me. How come there is no assistance with Hughes satellite internet service in President Obama‚Äôs recovery act, when it is the ONLY thing that is available to me? Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,
    Lee Bolin

    Posted by Lee Bolin, 11/13/2010 2:19pm (4 years ago)

  • The question I would have for the administration...
    What about those of us without the funds to purchase wifi service? It's there, but I just can't afford it.

    Posted by Bryan, 08/22/2010 1:25am (4 years ago)

  • when is this project predicted to be finished

    Posted by , 08/21/2010 10:26pm (4 years ago)

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