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Broadband cash for Chicago

Broadband funding in the stimulus bill was largely billed as for rural areas without internet access. However, Chicago  will also get some of that federal money, the Associated Press reports. Two Chicago groups will get a combined $16 million in stimulus money for broadband, with the Dept. of Commerce providing $7 million to the Smart Chicago Broadband Adoption Program and $9 million to the Smart Chicago Public Computer Centers project.  The public computer centers project will do as the name says and upgrade broadband at community colleges, libraries and other public places. The Broadband Adoption Program, meanwhile, will focus on internet service in five Chicago neighborhoods.

The Depts. of Commerce and Agriculture have until Sep. 30 to allocate $7.2 billion in broadband grants.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has compared providing broadband in rural areas today to when those areas first received electricity. Swaths of Chicago, however, are also disengaged from modern technology and commerce. As the city’s debate over Wal-Mart has reminded residents, entire neighborhoods lack retail and grocery stores. Perhaps the broadband grant will make these neighborhoods at least virtually connect to the rest of Chicago and the country.

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