Two federal broadband grants awarded

The federal government has awarded grants and loans to expand broadband internet access in south central and southeast Kansas.

In the Wichita area and along the Kansas-Missouri border, Level 3 EON of Broomfield, Colo., was awarded $998,400 to build four access points on its broadband network to enable last-mile providers to offer affordable high-speed services to underserved areas.

The project would enhance broadband for as many as 50,000 households and 3,600 businesses and community institutions.

All four Wichita-based applicants were turned down in the first round of grants. They included Pixius Communications, Sunflower Broadcasting, SyCom Services, and Oaklawn Improvement District.

A second round of applications closes on Monday.

In southeast Kansas, Totah Communications was awarded $8.5 million in grants and loans to upgrade existing copper-fed DSL nodes to fiber-fed DSL nodes and install additional fiber-fed DSL nodes throughout northeastern Oklahoma and southeast Kansas.

The project would mean 60 jobs saved and/or created and improved Internet access to 800 new customers.