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Local News

August 5, 2010

Funds awarded to expand broadband service

— The Deposit Telephone Company, a subsidiary of TDS Telecom, was awarded $3,143,839 in stimulus funding Wednesday to expand broadband service in Delaware and Chenango counties.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Michael Arcuri and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the funding during a teleconference. The project will bring highspeed DSL broadband service to rural areas.

TDS Public Relations Manager DeAnne Boegli said the $4,191,785 project will make broadband available to 1,188 properties and will create 83 jobs for contractors and skilled laborers.

Boegli said TDS is investing $1,047,946 in matching funding. “If you think about what it is like living with dial-up service, these people are going to be just thrilled,” Boegli said.

Boegli said the project is scheduled to take 24 to 36 months once the paperwork is completed and the funding is released. She said TDS was awarded thirty-nine broadband expansion grants from USDA totaling $85.9 million. The projects are located in 18 states.

“We will be prioritizing the projects,” she said. “And in some areas, like Deposit, the weather is going to have implications in getting the work done.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus bill, contains $7.2 billion in funding for broadband deployment across the country, helping communities create jobs in the short term and lay the groundwork for future economic growth.

Vilsack said high-speed broadband “will move rural America into the 21st century. It is comparable to what the Rural Electrification Administration projects did in the 1930s.” Vilsack said broadband gives emergency services better methods of communications, allows schools to participate in long-distance learning and gives farmers instant access to up-to-date weather forecasts and crop prices.

“To create the vibrant Upstate New York economy of tomorrow that creates and sustains the jobs of the future, we must build rural broadband and high-speed internet networks today,” Schumer said. “The difference between economic success and failure in a digital world will be in large part determined by access to high-speed broadband.”

Schumer said the U.S. rates 15th in the world in terms of broadband availability. He added that the goal is to bring access to broadband to every community in the state.

“There are areas in our region that currently do not have access to cable television, much less highspeed Internet,” Arcuri said. “Our ability to compete in the global economy depends on widespread, affordable access.” Arcuri said broadband will encourage companies to come to the area and will help small businesses expand by helping them sell their goods and giving them access to supply sources.

PATRICIA BREAKEY can be reached at 865-5175 or at patriciabreakey@yahoo. com

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