Billions of dollars in federal stimulus grants for broadband development have begun to flow toward the nation’s rural communities, aimed at erasing critical gaps in service and speed that hamper many rural schools.
The grants and projects vary widely, from funding fixed wireless broadband in Michigan to providing mobile broadband access to rural Alabama. Many will provide discounted service to anchor institutions in communities such as schools and libraries.
Erskine Bowles, the president of the University of North Carolina system, described a $75.8 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant that the North Carolina technology-development nonprofit MCNC will receive from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as “a game changer.” The money is expected to help provide affordable broadband service in 69 of the state’s most economically disadvantaged rural counties and directly connect 170 institutions.
The $4.7 billion federal grant program is financed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Broadband-Development Grants Help Bridge Gap for Rural Schools