Local Tech Wire

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Wednesday the funding of 126 new Recovery Act broadband infrastructure projects that will create jobs and provide rural residents in 38 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

The following five companies in North Carolina received funding:

Utopian Wireless Corporation ($460,993)
This $460,000 award to Utopian Wireless Corporation will bring WiMax infrastructure to rural communities in and around Riegelwood and will provide broadband access to underserved household and businesses. The Utopian project stands to benefit approximately 3,000 people, 450 businesses, and 30 other community institutions.

Country Cablevision ($25,297,000)
The YMRB project, using this award of $25.3 million, will promote social and economic development in a rural, economically-distressed area of North Carolina by delivering critical digital services (TV, data and VOIP). More than 33,000 people, approximately 1,900 local businesses, and 120 community institutions stand to benefit from this improved service. Not only will this project create jobs upfront, it will help drive economic development in the community that creates jobs for years

Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation ($16,003,418)
Through this award of $16 million, Columbus County ACCESS will provide an all Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network for high-capacity data, voice, and video services to critical community facilities and public safety entities. More than 8,700 people, approximately 270 local businesses and 35 community institutions stand to benefit from this improved service.

Wilkes Telecommunications ($21,611,000)
This $21.6 million award to Wilkes will provide last-mile fiber optic high speed broadband, video, and voice services to underserved rural areas in Wilkes County. Wilkes Telecommunication’s project stands to benefit approximately 8,500 people, 3,300 businesses, and 45 other community institutions. Wilkes estimates that this project will directly create at least 160 jobs upfront.

Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation ($19,947,739)
This $19.9 million award to Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation will provide an advance Fiber-to- the-Home (FTTH) broadband services via a high speed fiber optic network designed for speed up to 100 megabytes per second to end users in our rural proposed funded service area. Lumbee River Electric’s project stands to benefit approximately 27,000 people, 1,600 businesses, and 100 other community institutions.

A complete list of projects receiving Recovery Act broadband grant awards today can be viewed in full .

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $7.2 billion and directed the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.

The result is the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

BIP, which include the grants announced today, will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas. Approximately $2.5 billion was allotted to the USDA to make loans to companies building out broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

BTOP is different and will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers, and sustainable broadband adoption projects. Of that $7.2 billion in the Recovery Act, $4.7 billion was allotted to the NTIA to award grants

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