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Stimulus Grants to Help Connect Main Street America

Local Cable Operators Ready to Bridge Digital Divide

PITTSBURGH, February 17, 2009 - As the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) was signed into law by President Barack Obama today, the American Cable Association (ACA) applauded the inclusion of $7.2 billion in funding for deploying broadband.  The grants and loans in the economic stimulus package will be distributed by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture to broadband providers and other entities to increase the availability of high-speed Internet service in unserved and underserved communities throughout the nation, and to create new jobs.

"ACA and its members understand more than anyone what it takes to provide high-speed Internet service in small markets and rural areas across the country; they have been doing it for years," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.  "Funding broadband programs will enable small and medium-sized cable operators, who have already invested significant private capital into their communities, to receive funds to invest in the infrastructure improvements necessary to offer more advanced broadband services.  We look forward to working with both the Commerce and Agriculture Departments to make sure all entities, regardless of technology, can put these funds to work for the American people."

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will administer $4.7 billion in grants, and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service will administer $2.5 billion in grants and loans.  The bill gives both agencies various mandates but empowers them with a great deal of discretion regarding spending in pursuit of those mandates.  The economic stimulus package, which was passed by the House and Senate on February 13 did not contain any broadband tax credits. 

On February 3rd, ACA urged Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) (available here) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (available here) to make federal assistance in the form of grants and loans available to small and medium-sized cable operators as part of the economic stimulus.  Citing the inability of ACA's members to begin offering higher-speed services in underserved communities, ACA asked lawmakers to make grant money available to replace limited-capacity connections to the national fiber network that cause bottlenecks and prevent consumers from receiving significantly higher speeds using existing local infrastructure.

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About the American Cable Association

Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/.  

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