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Telecoms awarded stimulus funding for broadband projects

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding of 126 new Recovery Act broadband infrastructure projects aimed at creating jobs and providing rural residents in 38 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

This announcement is part of the second round of USDA broadband funding through the Recovery Act.

In all, $1.2 billion will be invested in the 126 broadband infrastructure projects through funding made available through the Recovery Act. An additional $117 million in private investment will be leveraged, bringing the total funds invested to $1.31 billion.

By leveraging Recovery Act funding authorized by Congress, USDA has been able to provide loans and grants of $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 Sept. 30. The Recovery Act provided USDA with a total of $2.5 billion to invest in expanding broadband access to rural America.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

Three companies in Mississippi received awards. They are:

• Southeast Mississippi Telephone Company in Leakesville was awarded approximately $1.875 million. With an additional $625,000 of outside capital, the company will bring high-speed DSL broadband service to unserved establishments within its rural service territory. According to the USDA, Southeast Mississippi Telephone’s project stands to benefit approximately 1,428 people, 12 businesses and five other community institutions.

• Calhoun City Telephone Company Inc. was awarded approximately $2.962 million. With an additional $987,000, the company will bring high-speed DSL broadband service to unserved establishments within its rural service territory. According to the USDA, Calhoun City Telephone’s project stands to benefit approximately 1,300 people, 25 businesses and eight community institutions.

• Windstream Corporation, based in Little Rock, Ark., was awarded approximately $1 million. With an additional $335,189, Windstream will extend its broadband network to provide broadband to many currently unserved homes and businesses. According to the USDA, Windstream’s project stands to benefit approximately 2,750 people, 25 businesses and five other community institutions.

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About Wally Northway

One comment

  1. It’s about time the government stepped up to bring service to rural areas. The problem with letting these companies operate freely is that there is no incentive to bring service to less-populated areas. For them, the profits will never outweigh the costs.

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