County Seeks Grant To Build Towers, Wireless Network

MIDDLESEX COUNTY—Middlesex County is applying for $14.5 million in federal stimulus funds to improve access to and use of broadband service by public safety agencies and schools by building five communications towers and a wireless network throughout the county.

The county would use the funding to provide subsidized broadband access to 20 county satellite offices, 25 municipal police agencies, the Vocational-Technical Schools, Middlesex County College and up to 100 schools in the county.


The funds are available through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Broadband Infrastructure Grant program was established to extend broadband access to unserved areas, improve access to underserved areas and expand broadband access to a wide range of institutions and individuals, including, vulnerable populations.

The program would support viable, sustainable, and scalable projects.
“This grant would provide funding to expand the county’s overall wireless communication capabilities and will perfectly complement our current plan for the construction of multiple towers throughout the county,” said Middlesex County Deputy Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano, chair of the county’s Administration and Finance Committee.

It is estimated that, once complete, this project could generate about $900,000 per year for the county and reduce the county’s operating expenses by about $500,000 annually.

The new towers would also enable the county to sell space on them to outside users, providing a new revenue stream.

“As we continue to face challenging economic times, we must look for new ways to bring revenue into the county so we can lessen the tax burden on our citizens while maintaining our quality services and programs,” Rafano said.

“Building the towers brings multiple benefits – we ensure that our public safety and school agencies have reliable access to wireless communications and we generate revenue for the county.”

Only 27 governmental entities throughout the nation are applying for the grant, Rafano said. “We are taking a very aggressive approach to seeking out and applying for federal stimulus monies in many different areas to ensure that we get as much as we can to benefit our taxpayers and improve services.”

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