The Federal government has announced the first recipients of some of the $7.2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadband stimulus grants. The money is to increase broadband access across the United States, especially in underserved areas.
Depending on which survey you read, the U.S. is somewhere between 15th and 20th on the list of broadband penetration, behind such countries as South Korea, Singapore, Estonia, and Canada.
Three libraries are among the earliest grantees.
The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records received a $1.3 million grant to enhance existing facilities in more than 80 public libraries throughout the state. More than 1,000 computers will be added.
The Boston Public Library will receive $455,000 (of $1.9 million granted to the City of Boston) to expand public computing capacity at its 25 locations. The Library expects to install 282 new computers in dedicated training rooms and mobile tech classrooms, and to offer technology training in English and Spanish.
The New Mexico State Library will receive a $1.5 million grant to increase broadband adoption and promote computer literacy and Internet use among vulnerable populations, including Latino and Native American users, small businesses, and entrepreneurs through training and outreach.
In addition, ION Hold Co., LLC, received a $39.7 million grant to build 10 new segments of fiber-optic, middle mile broadband infrastructure, serving more than 70 rural communities in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The 1,308-mile network will offer broadband speeds of one to 10 gigabytes per second, and connect more than 100 institutions, including libraries, state and community colleges, state and county agencies, and health clinics.
More broadband grants will be announced in the coming weeks, with more libraries likely to be named.