By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Telecommunications companies in 16 states are sharing more than $103 million in federal funding to help expand broadband Internet access to rural America.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants and loans through its rural development office on Monday.
Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein said in a conference call that rural areas lag behind urban parts of the country when it comes to broadband Internet access. That's because those areas don't have enough people, have rugged terrain, or it's too costly for companies to serve them.
Adelstein says that access is important to improve economic and educational opportunities in those areas.
The states that will benefit from the funding are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.