The plan is to bring grants to each state and territory of the US, as well as the District of Columbia. These four states had the best applications and NTIA is reviewing the rest. The awarded funds will be used to build a national broadband map which will be useful in several ways:
The national broadband map will publicly display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings.
Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year, BTOP will be implemented by the Federal Communications Commission in consultation with the NTIA. By February 17, 2010, the FCC must develop a plan to bring broadband capability to everyone in the United States.
Goals of the BTOP are to:
Close the broadband gap in America, focusing in particular on ensuring that unserved and underserved areas – whether rural, urban or in between – have access to modern communications services and the benefits those services offer for education, high-value jobs, quality health care and more.
Bring the maximum broadband benefits possible to our schools, libraries, community centers, and medical centers, as well as to our most vulnerable populations and geographic areas.
Improve broadband service for public safety users.
Help stimulate broadband demand, economic growth, and job creation.
Part of the plan is to create a Broadband Map, which will be publicly accessible, and regularly updated. The deadline for the map is February 17, 2011, and officials expect to have an early version of the map up by February 2010. The map will enable the general public to learn where and what quality of broadband is available, and help businesses decide where to invest.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $4.7 billion for the project.
In a press release from the White House, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said, “The Commerce Department’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program will reach the last frontiers of America’s information landscape, and the investments it makes in inner-city neighborhoods and rural communities will spur innovation and pave the way for private capital to follow.”
More awards will be announced throughout the fall.
These programs will help increase access to information for all Americans, whether it will enable them to use broadband in their homes or provide access at public libraries. Hopefully the program stays on track and once the plan is developed, it can be acted upon.
Facts on Broadband:
See what projects have been proposed: