Residents and businesses in geographic areas not served by high-speed Internet providers may qualify for a special Recovery funded program to bring them satellite broadband access at a reduced price.
In 2009 and 2010, consistent with the national plan devised by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand broadband access to 100 million households that currently lack it, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $7.2 billion in Recovery funds for extending high-speed broadband access into mostly rural regions either not served or underserved by broadband providers.
Recovery funded two programs:
- Broadband Technology Opportunities Progam (BTOP) -- to enhance and expand existing broadband networks and create new ones for 40 million households
- Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) -- to extend broadband into remote rural areas for 2.8 million households
BTOP and BIP projects, many already under way, are required to be completed within three years of their award date.
Still, not all rural areas will be reached by these two programs, which involve land-based networks. So late last year, USDA awarded $100 million in Recovery funds to four satellite companies to provide high-speed Internet service to as many of those areas as possible. The program requires that the companies offer free installation, no upfront equipment costs, and reduced subscription rates for the first year.
The companies that received Recovery funds are:
- Hughes Network – $59 million
- WildBlue Communications – $19.5 million
- EchoStar/Dish – $14 million
- Spacenet, Inc. – $7.5 million
The satellite projects, expected to eventually reach about 450,000 households, are just getting started. Some areas will continue to lack access, but the FCC's ongoing national broadband plan intends to bring affordable broadband service to nearly all consumers by 2020.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has assembled a series of maps that display, among other things, the locations of all federally funded broadband initiatives. The maps are meant to serve as a guide to geographical areas still not receiving broadband through land-based networks that may be eligible for the Recovery-funded satellite broadband program.
Hughes Network is currently determining eligibility based on three criteria:
- Your address must be located in a rural area as defined by federal statute
- Your address must not be in a location already served by or about to be served by an NTIA or RUS broadband initiative
- Your address must be in an area that does not have high-speed broadband access available at all
For more information, contact the service provider in your area.
See maps that compare locations of Recovery broadband funding to the locations of households that do not have access to 4mbps broadband service.
National Broadband Maps
The NTIA has posted maps of broadband coverage, technology, provider locations, and other similar information. For details, visit the
Source for Satellite Awards map: Rural Utilities Service Satellite Awards Fact Sheet
Latest Broadband News:
USDA Rural Development Providing F&B Communications with $3.2 Million in Loan and Grant Funds Through Recovery Act
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