US Stimulus Package Includes Tech Provisions

A stimulus package expected to be approved by the U.S. Congress as soon as Friday includes tens of billions of spending on tech-related projects.

The latest cost estimate of the bill is US$787 billion, down slightly from earlier estimates.

Here are the major tech provisions in the bill:

-- $7.2 billion for broadband deployment to rural and other unserved areas. The bill gives $2.5 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service for direct loans and grants to broadband providers in rural areas, and $4.7 billion to the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for broadband deployment grants.

The bill does not include tax credits for broadband providers, which were included in a Senate-passed version of the bill. The bill also does not include controversial broadband speed requirements that were in a House of Representatives version of the bill, but it does include net neutrality and interconnection requirements, to be determined by the NTIA and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

-- $17 billion to drive forward the adoption of health IT and electronic health records by health care providers. The bill would spend the money largely on incentive payments to health care providers, with payments of $18,000 if the providers adopt electronic health care records in the first year and declining payments in later years.

-- $11 billion to fund projects to modernize the nation's electricity grid and hook it up to an Internet-based monitoring system. The smart grid will allow customers to monitor their energy use and save money, supporters said.

-- $3 billion for the National Science Foundation for basic research in fundamental science and engineering.

--$2 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, which funds research in such areas as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences. That figure includes $400 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency -- Energy.

-- $4.5 billion for the repair of federal government building to increase energy efficiency using green technology.

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