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The Associated Press August 4, 2010, 5:43PM ET

USDA awards $11.3M to expand broadband in SE Neb.

Several thousand people in southeast Nebraska will benefit from an $11.3 million USDA grant that will help pay for broadband Internet access.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that Southeast Nebraska Communications Inc. would receive the grant to install fiber optic lines for fast Internet service around Falls City. The Nebraska grant is one of 126 stimulus projects worth $1.2 billion announced Wednesday.

Officials estimate that about 3,000 people will benefit from faster Internet connections because of the Nebraska project.

Nebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson says having broadband Internet access in rural areas helps those areas better compete for economic development.

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