More Communities To Get Broadband Access, Via The USDA

Fifteen separate projects to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities around the United States will be funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many parts of the United States remain without high-speed options because the cost-benefit of building the infrastructure in far-flung places hasn't been high enough for private providers. So in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year, $2.5 billion was earmarked for the USDA to make high-speed Internet more universal - though not quite as universal as Finland has. The Commerce Department, through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is giving out another $4.7 billion for broadband.

In fact, U.S. broadband speeds lag behind many other "first-world" nations. A Speed Matters test showed that only 20 percent of Americans receive broadband speeds equal to that of the top-tier nations in broadband speed - South Korea, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands. Another 18 percent don't even have access to speeds that meet the FCC's definition of broadband: a consistent "always on" connection of at least 768 kilobits per second downstream.


The newly funded USDA projects are in Alaska, Alabama, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia and are a mix of grants and loans. They include:
• More than $16 million in Alleghany County, Va., to provide fiber-based broadband infrastructure. The goal is to foster economic development by providing the ability for people to work from home, and to improve the health, education and public safety of county residents.
• Nearly $4 million for Butler Telephone Co., in Butler, Ala., to provide high-speed DSL to remote homes in its territory, built so it can be easily upgraded in the future.
• About $3 million (and another $1.5 million in matching funds) to build a fiber-optic network in Meriden and Archer, Iowa, with speeds exceeding 20 Mbps.

According to the Associated Press, the USDA's Rural Utilities Service has given out $363.7 million for 22 broadband projects across the country.

The NTIA has awarded about $200 million in grants for 15 projects.

Applications for the next — and final round — of broadband funding from the USDA are due by March 15.

Via:  USDA
Comments
rapid1 4 years ago

It looks like the Verizon wireless G3 map. Anyway I don't understand why there is not more work being done on high speed wireless. That would seem to address everything country wide better. Yes I like my fast wired connection, but if I could not get it a highspeed wireless (which would be slower by default than wired) is still way better than nothing right.

Drago 4 years ago

Yes, they are called cellnet's and the use point to point grid antenna's. You would be surprised as to how "fast" these really are. 1.5m up and down with latencies at 14-25ms on good days and in a hard rain and thunderstorm 256k up and down with latencies at about 150ms. The problem with the cellnets is that well there are these things called hills, valleys, oh and TREES, that get in the way of this line of sight communication. It also costs a lot, that and the companies that do offer broadband this way dont have any competition so they charge and can afford to treat their customers like crap to. This is why i am still on dialsuck as i dont have a line of sight to the tower thanks to the neighbor across the road with his massive 150ft tall pine tree's on either side of his driveway that completely block the view from the 60ft tall tv antenna tower we have.

If the govt would just make it worth the internet providers time to put in broadband in rural areas, they might just get off their butts and do something. The whole reason they arent is because they make pretty much pure profit off of any existing copper telephone line. If they put in broadband, they have to compete with the likes of vonage and skype in sucking away their paying customers for phone service.

This is clearly anti competitive tactics but of course no one in Washington is smart enough to see this and do something about it.

Soupstyle 4 years ago

[quote user="Drago"]

If the govt would just make it worth the internet providers time to put in broadband in rural areas, they might just get off their butts and do something. The whole reason they arent is because they make pretty much pure profit off of any existing copper telephone line. If they put in broadband, they have to compete with the likes of vonage and skype in sucking away their paying customers for phone service.

This is clearly anti competitive tactics but of course no one in Washington is smart enough to see this and do something about it.

[/quote]

The government has been paying internet providers and telephone companies to expand networks and broadband access into all areas including rural ones, the companies have been pocketing the cash without doing anything real to upgrade the nation's broadband network. For example the way Verizon took over $2 Billion from Pennsylvania with nothing in return can be read here. In fact Verizon regularly sells off chunks of network when they don't want to upgrade the area when it is required of them.

Check out dslreports.com for more info if you want. The simple fact is that telecoms don't want to go through the effort of connecting all of the dots for rural customers, but also doesn't want other (smaller) companies who are willing to do the work to do it either.

I agree that this is anti-competitive, but no one in the FCC, congress or anyone else seems to have the cojones to stand up to the telecoms.

@gibber The broadband standard of 768 kbps down 200 kbps up (it was 200 kbps down & up for broadband before 2008) was defined a while ago, but the big companies are lobbying hard to keep it there to be able to tout their wide area covering that rate (which would shrink to something more looking like AT&T's 3G wireless map if they upped the requirement). Another thing is that the FCC currently says if 1 person in a zip code is wired with "broadband" then the whole zip code is considered covered. So telecom companies would have houses/trailers set up that no one lived in that would get wired but refuse to give service or build their network in the whole town/zip code but claimed the area as "broadband covered".

gibbersome 4 years ago

@Drago That sucks. I think there should be Verizon FIOS in every neighborhood in the US. The broadband definition of "at least 768 kilobits per second" is pretty lenient as it is. I have the fastest Time Warner Cable here and from 8pm-1am the connection drops to around 70-80 KB/s. This is the time other students around here are accessing the internet at the same time. In the early morning the speed is back upto 1-2MB/s.

I would even count myself as lucky. There are certain places in Upstate NY where it would cost $60,000+ to have anything other than dial-up. Whatever happened to satellite internet? Didn't Dish Network have something like that in the works?

rapid1 4 years ago

Yeah I don't get it if dish can deliver a full 1080p HD movie then it can carry enough data down I am sure. I don't know what there limitations are up. Either way I don't know why the government does not work on it or find providers to do so for nation wide internet. I know it would not be ultra speedy, but I will bet you it would be fast enough. Remember here almost everyone had nothing but dial-up just over 10 years ago. Then all those who wanted more speed could pay for it. I bet to a large percentage it would not even hurt the provider's much either. So everyone would have internet the big boys may have to drop some prices, but this is common now it is not special anymore, anyway.

Soupstyle 4 years ago

Yay, the USDA is doing something that AT&T and other telecoms were paid millions to do but never did!

Thank goodness that uncle sam finally decided that the status quo wasn't working in getting the country decent internet coverage.

realneil 4 years ago

Telcos STILL enjoy huge tax breaks that were started to help them upgrade America into the 21st. century.

Drago is correct in that they are screwing the public and nobody in "Power" (what a BS expression) can reign them in. Rural Virginia suffers from this very problem. Many people I know feel lucky when they get a 26,400 Baud dial-up connection instead of the normal 24,000.

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