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NM: New Mexico Lands Millions in Broadband Funds

New Mexico Business Weekly

The New Mexico counties of Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, northern Santa Fe and five American Indian communities will receive $10.6 million in stimulus grants to improve high-speed Internet infrastructure, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Commerce officials said the project will connect more than 120 community “anchor institutions” to broadband service — including public safety facilities, K-12 schools, community colleges, government buildings, health care providers and libraries — which will support distance learning, telemedicine and improved public safety communications.

The project also will promote energy efficiency by enabling smart grid applications for regional rural electric cooperatives. Officials said local Internet service providers will be able to utilize the new infrastructure to deploy new or improved high-speed Internet service to consumers and businesses.

“This Recovery Act investment will create jobs, support advances in education and health care, and help lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth,” said Deputy NTIA Administrator Anna M. Gomez.

Meanwhile on Monday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall, D-NM, and Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, used the occasion of the New Mexico Broadband and Smart Grid Summit in Moriarty, to announce $73 million in grants and awards for expansion of broadband services to rural, under-served areas of the state.

More than 300 attended the event at the Moriarty Civic Center, which included panel sessions on issues facing the state as it works to overcome the digital divide and harness broadband technologies.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will receive a $44 million grant and a $19 million loan to create a 2,400-mile broadband network, which will connect approximately 20,500 households, 3,600 businesses, 183 “critical community institutions” and two American Indian pueblos.

“Broadband creates jobs. Broadband connects communities,” said Udall. “That’s what this summit [was] about.”

Added Bingaman, “New Mexico is poised to be a leader in expanding broadband access and the use of smart grid technology to reduce consumers’ utility bills, and I believe the summit will help make that a reality. The federal government can be a very important partner in meeting our state’s broadband and smart grid needs."