Major south Texas broadband project receives stimulus funds Texas hopes to receive more consideration of projects in second round of funding.

AUSTIN – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples congratulates the Valley Telephone Cooperative for obtaining a $40 million loan and $38 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Broadband Initiatives Program. To date, Valley Telephone Cooperative is the only entity from Texas to receive funding from the $7.2 billion federal stimulus programs designed to increase broadband accessibility.

“The funding announcement for Valley Telephone Cooperative is great news and is an important step forward,” Commissioner Staples said. “While we appreciate the funding Texas is receiving, it’s important to note, Texas is a big state with big needs, and stimulus funding for broadband deployment should reflect the large and unique challenges we will encounter in expanding broadband services to all parts of the state.”

On Feb. 16, 2010, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and USDA posted applications for the remainder of the stimulus funding dedicated to broadband expansion projects. Applicants from Texas should contact the Texas Department of Agriculture or the Public Utility Commission of Texas to announce their intent to participate. This will allow for better coordination of applications and will increase Texas’ competitiveness in the grant process.

Applications must be submitted by March 15, 2010. “We hope in this next and final round of funding that the federal government will give fair consideration to worthy Texas projects,” Commissioner Staples said.

“It is imperative applicants notify the state of their interest in applying so the importance of the projects can be relayed to federal officials.” Last summer, Gov. Rick Perry designated TDA, in consultation with PUC and the Texas Public Safety Commission, as the lead agency in coordinating broadband expansion activities funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

As such, the department is responsible for consulting with NTIA and USDA to provide guidance on state priorities regarding the delivery of broadband services, as well as recommendations about which applications affecting Texas should be funded.

For the latest information on broadband issues click on Broadband for All Texans. The site offers matchmaking resources allowing businesses and organizations the ability to collaborate on funding applications.