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By TYLER GREEN
Daily Press Staff Writer
Peñasco Valley Telecommun-
ications (PVT) recently received $9.5 million in federal funds to expand their broadband services to customers living in rural areas.
The funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).
On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, providing funds to the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce to expand broadband access to rural and unserved areas of the country.
The Recovery Act authorized the USDA with budget authority of $2.5 billion, which it is using flexibly to provide loans, grants and loan/grant combinations to expand broadband access in rural America. The USDA expects to use approximately $2 billion to provide grants, while the remaining funds will finance loans, for a potential total investment in rural broadband of $3-4 billion.
The Recovery Act establishes the rapid disbursement of the funds as an important priority for the BIP program to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The program also must be administered judiciously to ensure responsible use of public funds.
According to a program outline, to balance these objectives, RUS will favor projects that can commence construction promptly and demonstrate technical and financial feasibility, organizational capacity and the furtherance of other administration priorities. A commitment to transparency in the award process and rigorous reporting requirements will help ensure accountability.
The Recovery Act requires that at least 75 percent of a BIP-funded area be rural and “without sufficient access to high speed broadband service to facilitate rural economic development.”
During a ceremony held Tuesday, PVT was honored by USDA officials and statements from U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Rep. Harry Teague (NM-2) were read. …