U.S. to Pump $1.2 Billion to Expand Broadband Access

The expansion into rural areas will create jobs and bring economic development, the government says.

The U.S. will expand broadband or high-speed Internet access to dozens of underserved rural communities. The government announced the latest effort for 126 projects using money from the economic stimulus package approved last year by Congress.

"The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in announcing the grants.

"The Obama administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions -- such as libraries, schools, public safety and community centers -- to provide services to thousands of Americans," he said.

Vilsack promised the projects would create jobs and bring economic development to rural America.

President Barack Obama earlier this year presented Congress with a national plan setting a 10-year goal of connecting 100 million U.S. households to affordable 100-megabits-per-second Internet service.

Obama has pledged to put broadband in every American home. His administration designated more than seven billion dollars in economic stimulus money to expand broadband access in underserved communities.

U.S. connection speeds average less than 4.0 megabits per second (mbps) according to a report by Web analytics firm Akamai, placing the United States 18th in the global rankings behind leaders South Korea (14.6 mbps) and Japan (7.9 mbps).

The United States ranks 12th in terms of broadband connectivity with 24% of the population enjoying average speeds of over 5.0 mbps compared with 74% in South Korea and 60% in Japan, according to Akamai.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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