The money aims to fix a problem many rural areas face when expanding broadband. While a high-speed fiber network backbone may exist in these areas, it is very expensive to build the "middle mile" fiber between the backbone and the facilities that need the service, such as community centers, libraries, office complexes and schools. The stimulus grant is aiming to close that gap in communities such as Lynchburg, Va.
The Virginia Tech Foundation was awarded an additional $5.5 million grant for broadband connections between Blacksburg, Va. and Bedford, Va. About 30 small Internet service providers will be able to hook up to the fiber to reach their own customers.
Sen. Mark Warner, (D-Va.), former governor of Virginia, said the "stimulus dollars are going to create two separate paths of jobs--immediate jobs in putting in the fiber but more important is the economic development activity that will be spurred by the high-speed broadband."
He said southside Virginia has already seen hundreds of jobs created since the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative got its start.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said the money will help communities that struggle to expand economically even in prosperous times.