Administration Report Points Up Rural Broadband Progress

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In a newly-released report from the White House, the Obama Administration highlighted the expansion of both wireline and wireless broadband access to "over 7 million rural Americans, including 3 million rural households and over 350,000 rural businesses".

The administration pointed to policies impacting health care, residential access to advanced services, and business benefits. Among the reported benefits cited in the report:

•As a result of USDA's Broadband Initiative Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 2.8 million households will have new or improved broadband services, reaching nearly 7 million people and 364,000 businesses across more than 300,000 square miles.

•The SBA / SCORE Broadband Initiative helps small businesses accelerate growth through the use of broadband technologies, many of which are in rural communities. To date, its online resources have been leveraged by over 11,000 small businesses.

•Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, more than 2,500 health-care and educational facilities have received access to distance learning and telemedicine services.

•The Department of Health and Human Services has invested $4.5 million to support 17 Telehealth Network grantees, which provided over 17,000 teleconsultations to patients in isolated areas across 207 locations.

•The U.S. Chief Technology Officer launched the "Text 4 Baby" program to use mobile technologies to provide healthcare information to expecting and new parents. The service now has more than 135,000 subscribers.