Latest broadband access grants include telehealth projects

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 35 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs and improve education and healthcare across the U.S.

The investments, totaling $482.4 million in grants, include funding for telehealth and other health IT projects.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service are administering a nearly $7 billion ARRA initiative to expand access to and adoption of broadband services. NTIA is utilizing approximately $4 billion of that funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, expand public computer centers and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

The announcement is part of the second round of BTOP grant award announcements, which will continue on a rolling basis. NTIA will make all BTOP awards by Sept. 30, and has thus far announced 216 BTOP grants that benefit communities across the nation.

Some of the latest recipients include:

Illinois: Northern Illinois University: This $46.1 million grant, with an additional $22.4 million in matching contributions, will allow Northern Illinois University to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in areas of northwestern Illinois. The project plans to improve broadband access for more than 500 community institutions.

Rhode Island: OSHEAN: This $21.7 million grant, with an additional $10.7 million in matching contributions, will allow OSHEAN to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The project plans to improve broadband access for as many as 50 community institutions and expand high-capacity broadband services for higher education, research, remote healthcare, and economic development and job training uses.

Utah: Ute IndianThis $1.4 million grant, with an additional $630,000 in matching contributions, will allow the Ute Indian Tribe to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service for the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah and nearby areas in the state. The project plans to improve broadband access for approximately 40 community institutions, enhancing distance learning, telehealth and public safety applications.

Georgia: Professional Resources Management of Rabun:  This $1.1 million grant, with an additional $870,000 in matching contributions, will allow Professional Resources Management of Rabun to deploy 30 new workstations in two new computer centers to improve workforce development, education, and healthcare services in Rabun County, Ga. The project also plans to improve access to health information for the public and launch a videoconferencing telehealth initiative to allow healthcare providers to interact and share information statewide.

California: University of California, Davis: This $9.1 million grant, with an additional $4.7 million in matching contributions, will allow the University of California, Davis to improve and expand telehealth service for California residents. The project will promote adoption of an existing telehealth broadband network in the state, establish 15 telehealth communities to serve as models for sustainable healthcare delivery and equip community anchor facilities with tools and training to improve healthcare literacy via broadband access.

Georgia: Georgia Partnership for Telehealth: This $2.5 million grant, with an additional $1.2 million in matching contributions, will allow Georgia Partnership for Telehealth to connect community-serving institutions, like hospitals, schools, and public health departments in the state, by expanding an existing telehealth network to 67 additional community anchor sites. The project also plans to implement a training and awareness program for residents and rural healthcare providers to improve healthcare delivery in areas of the state with high levels of poverty.

Iowa: Central Iowa Hospital: This $8.3 million grant, with an additional $6.2 million in matching contributions, will allow the Central Iowa Hospital to bring high-speed broadband capabilities to rural medical facilities across underserved parts of Iowa and stimulate job creation within the rural health sector of the state. The project plans to provide 2,400 hours of teacher-led training each year for approximately 7,900 residents in the region over the three-year life of the project.