Thursday, December 17, 2009

Senator Kerry Applauds Broadband Stimulus Award for Boston

Centers Will Ensure Low Income Communities Will Have Expanded, Better Broadband Access

Office of Sen. John F. Kerry via 12/17/09 Boston - Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Paul Kirk, and Congressmen Edward Markey, Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, together with Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino today announced that the City of Boston will receive $1,906,439 from the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) initiative.

In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress recognized the need to promote equal access and opportunity for all Americans, no matter where they live. In particular, the BTOP prioritized three categories of projects: broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas, public computing centers and sustainable broadband adoption projects, as key to ensuring that no one is left behind.

Broadband adoption depends on the underserved residents of the city having ready access to computers and the basic training. However, the stark reality is that many Boston citizens do not have home computers. This new investment will fund a coordinated project among three community anchors to provide upgraded and expanded hardware, software, and public computing training in 26 public libraries, 11 public housing developments, and 16 Centers for Youth and Families in Boston.

"In Boston, 80% of public school kids have no broadband service at home in large part because their parents cannot afford it, and that's why we pushed like hell to invest in broadband deployment through the stimulus bill. The grants the city is receiving today will make it possible for kids to go to a nearby library or community center and access the same technology that kids in more privileged suburbs receive without thinking twice," said Senator Kerry.

"While we will continue to push for the agencies to move the money quickly and give all Massachusetts applicants a fair hearing, I am extremely pleased to see that stimulus funds are now flowing. And they are flowing to communities around the country to connect the hard to reach to broadband services and everything those services make possible."

"The initial awards announced today maximize the bang for the buck by focusing on establishing either middle mile connections or public computing centers that will act as hubs lighting up whole communities with broadband capabilities they otherwise would not have or would not be able to tap in to. Boston earned one of these initial grants for $1.9 million. The money will make it possible for libraries, public housing communities, and community centers to greatly expand broadband access for job hunters, kids seeking an education, immigrants to work on their English language skills and access Spanish language news, and numerous other life enhancing activities," concluded the senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

“Affordable, dependable broadband for Boston is essential in today’s world,” said Senator Paul G. Kirk, Jr. “Access to high speed internet is an absolute necessity for education and for business. This federal grant is an important step in seeing that families and firms in Boston will have the high-speed internet access they need and deserve.”

“Today’s announcement is a significant step towards bridging the digital divide that separates many low-income residents of our state from the technology they need to access educational and job opportunities. This funding is targeted where the digital divide has been the widest - at public housing sites, community centers, and libraries. There, those who need it most--including people with disabilities, seniors, students and others--will now be able to participate in a range of programs vital for success in the 21st century economy. Congratulations to Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, Senators Kerry and Kirk and our entire congressional delegation for working together to address these important issues,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

“The stimulus bill is about putting people to work,” said Congressman Mike Capuano. “Sustaining workforce development in the 21st century means creating access to computers and training individuals on how to use them. I applaud the NTIA for this decision and congratulate the City of Boston.”

“This is one way of reducing the much higher unemployment rate among minority and underserved communities. By improving computer competency among underserved populations we can create a better-educated work force, one that is better-prepared for this increasingly knowledge-based economy,” Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said.

“Boston’s award will give residents critical access to computers and new training and address digital inclusion challenges for citizens of all ages,” said Governor Patrick. “In coordination with the City’s other pending applications, these recovery funds promise to make Boston a national leader and fulfill President Obama and Congress’ goal of expanding opportunity by expanding broadband. I look forward to prompt and favorable action on our applications for Western Massachusetts and the Cape, so that we can deliver broadband’s economic, educational and public safety benefits to all of our unserved and underserved communities.”

“This grant award is wonderful news for the City of Boston and is once again proof that we are leading the way not only in applying for and getting crucial ARRA funding, but are doing so to further our progressive agenda of spreading innovative technology throughout the city,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“We will continue to be highly competitive in our ongoing pursuit of ARRA funding to bring technology into all of Boston’s underserved homes. I want to thank Senators John Kerry, Senator Paul Kirk, Governor Deval Patrick and Congressmen Edward Markey, Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch for their continued support in obtaining this funding," concluded Boston's chief executive, recently reelected to an fifth term in office.

The City has pledged to help other cities that may be interested in its approach to digital inclusion and public safety.
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