Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gov. Ritter Applauds Rollout of Broadband Awards

Governor Bill Ritter Jr. today applauded the first awards – including a $1.5 million grant to Peetz Cooperative Telephone Co. in Logan County – that will help expand high-speed Internet access across Colorado with funds from the Recovery Act.

“In today’s modern economy, high-speed Internet helps rural communities bridge the digital divide,” Gov. Ritter said. “These grants will spark economic growth by giving people the tools they need to help build a new economy in the 21st century.”

Peetz Cooperative Telephone Co. was one of 18 entities awarded Recovery Act grants Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden. The independent company was awarded $1.5 to expand existing infrastructure with a combination of technologies. This project will make broadband service available to as many as 550 locations in the Peetz Cooperative service area.

With more awards in the next two months, Vice President Biden today announced $183 million in grants for broadband projects that will benefit 17 states. The projects have been matched by more than $46 million in public and private sector capital. The awards announced Tuesday are the first of a series of announcements to be made by the federal government in the next few months.

A total of $7.2 billion in grants will be distributed across the country through two primary programs. The Recovery Act is distributing $4.7 billion through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and $2.5 through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

The Recovery Act awards are designed to help underserved communities by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses. At least 60 applications were submitted by companies and local agencies for projects in Colorado. A second round of applications will open in the next several weeks, with proposals expected to be due to federal agencies in early 2009. The Governor’s Office held public information meetings in the fall to help interested groups apply for broadband grants, and will schedule more public meetings once details of the next round of grants are released.

The Recovery Act, signed into law in February by President Obama, is expected to bring Colorado at least $5.5 billion through more than 140 different programs, including tax cuts for most working families, increased safety net services and investment in infrastructure projects and growth industries.

For more information about the Recovery Act in Colorado, visit www.colorado.gov/recovery.

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