Thirty-eight states, including Nebraska, are being awarded USDA grants aimed at boosting broadband Internet connections in rural areas. A few thousand Nebraskans in the Falls City area are expected to benefit.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grants this week. The funding is part of the Federal Recovery Act and is intended to bring high speed internet access to as many as one-point-two million homes.
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s a down payment, but not a balloon payment, approach,” Vilsack said. “It clearly makes a difference but there is still far more work to be done to make broadband available in all corners of the country.”
Vilsack says the grants should also make the U.S. more competive and create jobs. “It certainly puts people to work,” Vilsack says. “It certainly begins the process of having the nation focus on where we are competitively with other countries. We’re such a vast nation that it’s difficult for us to recognize that other countries are far, far ahead in terms of high-speed internet access and technology than where we are and we have to play catch up.”
Nebraska’s share of the grants will total 11-point-3 million dollars. The money is going to Southeast Nebraska Communications Inc., which will install fiber optic lines for fast Internet service around Falls City, reaching another three-thousand people. That grant is one of 126 stimulus projects worth $1.2 billion nationwide.