Grants spread telecom wealth

Technology Opportunities Program

Congress has more than tripled the amount of money available for a grant program designed to spread telecommunications technologies to rural and underserved urban communities.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced last week that it will award about $42.5 million this year to state, local and tribal governments, schools, libraries, health care providers, colleges and universities and nonprofit community organizations.

Last year's budget for the Technology Opportunities Program was $12.5 million.

Since its inception in 1994, TOP — formerly the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program — has awarded 456 grants totaling $149.7 million. Companies and foundations have provided an additional $221 million in local matching funds.

Applications for this year's competition are due by March 22. Awards will be announced in the fall.

Program officials look for model projects that demonstrate innovative uses of network technology, especially in underserved regions. NTIA, part of the U.S. Commerce Department, disseminates lessons learned from these projects to other communities.

NTIA will hold a series of free regional workshops for interested parties to learn about funding priorities, application requirements and best practices from previous TOP grantees. The workshops will be held Feb. 2 at Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.; Feb. 6 in Denver; and Feb. 8 in St. Louis.

For registration information go to the Technical Assistance Workshops 2001 page.

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