Broadband Initiative Begins

Public meetings scheduled next week.

Plans have been announced to begin the development of a broadband initiative, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This initiative will result in the deployment of high-speed internet service in rural and unserved communities. Public meetings will be held from March 16-24, in which interested parties will be asked to comment on the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the RUS grants and loans program established by the act. This initiative is being coordinated by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission.

Each of these meetings will feature a roundtable discussion and an opportunity for public comment. Each meeting will be Webcast as part of the effort to broaden public input. The March 17 meeting will be held in Las Vegas, Nev. with the following day's meeting scheduled for Flagstaff, Ariz. Officials say the public meetings are an important part of the agencies' efforts to move quickly to implement the act's broadband initiatives.

The request for information also seeks comment on the creation of a national broadband map. Comments will be received up to 30 days after publication of notice in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted via the Web, email or mail. Those wishing to comment are strongly encouraged to file via the Website www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants. Anyone without internet access will have to quickly submit their comments via the U.S. Mail. Otherwise, their submissions may not be heard because of delivery delays of up to two weeks due to mail security procedures.

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