Moved along steadily by billions in federal stimulus money, high-speed broadband Internet is making its way ever deeper into the countryside and remote areas of America. What big cities and large metropolitan areas take for granted is now improving the quality of life and competitiveness of businesses 100s of miles away from the closest Walmart.
Earlier this fall, in a report to Congress the Commerce Department highlighted efforts to hook up 25 public schools and 100 key community institutions in Nebraska with Internet dependable enough to support library access in remote areas and long distance learning. The report displayed a joint effort in Oregon where broadband has been credited with creating 100s of jobs and aiding in 50 startup businesses.
In one rural Illinois district, all students are now supplied with a mobile device, the report emphasized. Even so, 19 million Americans still lived in an area without a fixed broadband connection, according to a Federal Communications Commission report last year, most on tribal reservations and in small rural towns.
Most every state has a special project or designated commission to measure and enhance the broadband effort. However, some states are doing much more. An industry-fed $60 million technology fund has been established to advance broadband in California. Terry Branstad, governor of Iowa, has directed state officials to have a report completed by December on how to make good on his “Connect Every Iowan” pledge.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts have recently authorized $40 million from state bonds to be used in various broadband network infrastructure projects and Minnesota has set their target of universal access to quality broadband by 2015 into state law.
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