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President to Announce New BTOP, BIP Grants

President Barack Obama will announce on July 2 almost $800 million in 66 grants and loans in the
Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and Broadband Initiatives
Program, which is the broadband investment portion of the stimulus package. They are the first awards in the
second round of such grants.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke,
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist to
the Vice President, disclosed the awards in a conference call with reporters
late Thursday.

Locke said BTOP granted $404
million to 29 different projects, primarily middle-mile broadband
infrastructure projects that Locke said the private sector either wasn't
willing to or was unable to invest in. That also included $29 million for
computer centers.

Vilsack said new BIP grants and
loans total $390.9 million, with the emphasis on last-mile projects.

Those government investments will be matched by $200 million in outside investments, bringing the total to about $1 billion.

Bersntein said that the grants would
result in 5,000 jobs up front, including those digging the trenches and
stringing the wires.

Commerce and USDA have a total of
$7.2 billion to hand out. Commerce gave out $1.6 billion to 111 projects in the
first round. USDA gave out $1.48 billion in grants and loans for 105 projects.

Both Vilsack and Locke say they are
looking for shovel-ready projects. More grants will be announced in the coming

"These Recovery Act projects are an important investment in our broadband future," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Connecting all Americans to the benefits of broadband will create jobs, spur economic opportunity, and drive U.S. global leadership in innovation."

Genachowski is said to be planning a trip to President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii next week along with Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, to talk about broadband and meet with stakeholders there.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.