The US government will be awarding $2 billion of federal stimulus money over the next 75 days to begin work to expand broadband to rural areas. The first $182 million is being distributed beginning today for 18 projects in 17 states, the Obama Administration said. Some $7.2 billion overall has been marked in the stimulus for work on broadband.
Government officials supporting the plan argue that the investment will stimulate the economy and create “tens of thousands of jobs.” The issue of unemployment has begun to nag the Adminstration, which for much of 2009 has been bogged down in the morass that has become health care reform.
Monies received through the broadband stimulus program may not be exactly for Internet access, however. Improvements to the electrical grid, work in electronic medical records, and high-speed rail projects are also set to receive some funds as a result of the move, officials say.
While I know some of Obama’s opponents will see this as a foolhardy way to spend money, I think it is a good idea to start investing in our broadband infrastructure. Lets put it this way: in the modern economy, broadband Internet access has become ever more vital to success. With the US falling behind globally, you could argue that our businesses are also suffering as well. Add to this the patchwork nature of our broadband footprint, and well, you get the point.