Douglas, Leahy, Sanders And Welch Applaud First Broadband Funding To Reach Vermont Under Economic Recovery Act

. . . National Telecommunications And Information Administration Awards $1.2 M. To Vermont

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch and Governor Jim Douglas Tuesday welcomed the announcement by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, that Vermont has been awarded Vermont a $1.2 million broadband mapping grant.  Vermont’s grant is one of the first four American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadband grants to reach the states for broadband mapping, aggregation and infrastructure.

The new federal funds will be managed by the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI) to implement the Vermont Broadband Mapping Initiative, a collaborative broadband data collection and verification effort involving partners from the public, private and academic sectors.  This team -- VCGI, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, the Vermont Department of Public Service, the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies, and Vermont’s Enhanced 9-1-1 Board -- will use the latest technology to create a comprehensive and verified broadband availability map.  This data will help the Rural Utilities Service, NTIA and other public and private organizations deploy broadband infrastructure to address broadband needs in unserved and underserved areas.

“This federal investment is the foundation upon which economic recovery projects in broadband infrastructure will be built,” the Vermont Congressional Delegation said in a joint statement.  “Identifying every Vermont household without adequate broadband access will enable public and private resources to be targeted to reach the neediest and most underserved areas of Vermont as quickly as possible.”

“VCGI and the full Vermont Broadband Mapping Team, including potential private contractors, will be working with the broadband provider community in Vermont to develop this important public information resource for the state,” said VCGI Executive Director David Brotzman.  “Only by approaching this effort as a partnership will we be able to map broadband coverage in the state with the accuracy necessary to support Vermont's future broadband development needs.”

“This announcement recognizes that Vermont is already a national leader in broadband mapping thanks to the work we’ve been doing over the last two years,” said Governor Jim Douglas.  “We have over $130 million in pending stimulus grant applications for actual buildout of broadband; those applications are dependent on the mapping and planning that we’ve done. It’s a very good omen to see that the NTIA, which will award many of these grants, respects the quality of our data. Moreover, as we build, this additional money will assure that we know not only where we have broadband and mobile coverage but also how good that coverage actually is.”

According to an NTIA announcement on Monday, the State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program is a matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA).  The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability, speed, location, and technology type of broadband services. The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available state-wide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive, and searchable national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by Feb.17, 2011.

The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program grants announced Monday are the first of $7.2 billion in broadband funds included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The legislation created the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program, a loan and grant program aimed at deploying more broadband infrastructure to rural areas, and the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, a grant program that will build broadband infrastructure, help communities deploy public computing centers and develop long-term broadband education campaigns.

The NTIA’s news release along with an abstract of the Vermont grant application, provided by the NTIA, is attached.

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NTIA’s release and a summary of Vermont’s broadband mapping initiative are available above.

CONTACTS:    David Brotzman, VCGI (802) 881-4818
                        Tom Evslin, Vermont Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery,
                        (802) 828-1350
                        David Carle, Senator Patrick Leahy, (202) 224-3693
                        Mike Briggs, Senator Bernie Sanders, (202) 224-5141
                        Paul Heintz, Congressman Peter Welch, (202) 226-8346

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693

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