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      Nearly 9,000 N.M. homes to gain broadband access

      ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Nearly 9,000 New Mexico households will be able to access broadband services thanks to more than $5 million in federal funding.

      U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced the funding. It comes from the Federal Communications Commission's Connect America Fund.

      The New Mexico Democrat had been urging the FCC to free up unused funds that would help close the digital divide between urban areas that have access to high-speed Internet and rural areas that do not.

      Udall says reliable high-speed Internet is critical to leveling the playing field between rural and urban communities.

      Udall's office says the funding is being awarded to broadband providers Windstream, CenturyLink and Frontier. They will expand service to 8,782 unserved and underserved New Mexico households, reaching about 22,800 people.

      (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)