Polk Broadband Plan - Page 52

Existing Conditions and Reinvestment Act of 2009 made over $7 billion available for expanding broadband availability.29 All ARRA broadband funds have now been awarded; $8,877,028 was awarded to the state of Florida.30 Public-private partnerships have funded many successful broadband projects in other locations. An example is the countywide wireless broadband service in Hardee County, directly south of Polk County. In 2009, Rapid Systems (a private company) and the Hardee County Industrial Development Authority filed a joint application with the Hardee County Economic Development Authority for a grant to fund the construction and maintenance of broadband infrastructure and related equipment and services to serve the entire county (residences and Anchor Institutions) with high-speed internet access.31 The lowest-cost residential service available is currently priced at $19.95 per month, with an advertised download speed of 3 mbps.32 Community Anchor Institutions Community Anchor Institutions are defined by the NTIA as “schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety, community colleges and other institutions of higher education, and any other community support organizations and entities that facilitate greater use of broadband services.”33 Libraries Figure 30 shows the connection speeds and number of computers available for patrons at Polk County libraries. There are 15 public libraries in the county that provide public internet access. Internet access at libraries is an essential service for many residents of the county who have no internet access at home. Broadband is also important for the overall function of all modern library systems. The Polk County Library Cooperative maintains an online catalog, databases, book reservation and renewal system, and other resources that make use of broadband. Computers at all library branches are connected to this system. Figure 30. Connection Speeds & Computers Available at Polk County Libraries, 2012 Data source: Polk County Library Cooperative broadband_florida_initiative/broadband_grants_assistance_team 29 Recovery website. “Update: Recovery Broadband Funds 100 Percent Awarded.” http://www.recovery.gov/news/featured/pages/broadband.aspx 30 NTIA. “State Broadband Initiative.” http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/SBDD 31 Rapid Systems. “Hardee County Broadband Project.” http://www.rapidsys.com/hardee/default2.asp 32 Rapid Systems. “Hardee County Frequently Asked Questions.” http://rapidsys.com/hardee/faq.html 33 Department of Management Services. “Grants Assistance for Community Anchor Institutions.” http://www.dms.myflorida.com/suncom/ broadband_florida_initiative/broadband_grants_assistance_team 50