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Press Release

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida Colleges Seek $103 Million to Boost Broadband Access

~ Successful grant would improve Internet connectivity for all Floridians ~

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida College System (FCS), one of the nation’s largest community college systems, has teamed up with the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), and the 26 public broadcasting stations in Florida (FPBS), to apply for a $103 million federal grant that will create a statewide network to boost and sustain broadband access and education for all residents in Florida. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration-Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (NTIA-BTOP), through the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Agriculture, offered this grant opportunity to help eliminate the digital divide.

“This grant opportunity will help expand technology to particularly underserved areas of the state,” said the Florida College System Chancellor Dr. Willis N. Holcombe. “Finding ways to increase the scope and use of technology will undoubtedly enhance the learning opportunities available to students and will provide the needed fuel to drive our future workforce forward.”

The joint group, also referred to as Florida SmartNet, is a partnership of 55 higher education institutions and 26 FPBS stations, with the majority of the organizations having little to no access to high speed broadband. Florida SmartNet aims to benefit all Floridians by improving the connectivity within their communities, as it will encompass more than seven million households, 1.5 million businesses and 47,000 community anchor and public safety institutions. Each of the participating institutions will serve as an entry point for the broadband technology, which will enable every Floridian living within 50 miles of those locations to gain access to the Internet.

The $7.2 billion Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program will raise the country’s global standing regarding high-speed broadband penetration. The BTOP grant winners will be announced in September.

To learn more about the Florida College System, visit For more information about the BTOP grant program, visit