California and three other states were among the first recipients of more than $6.8 million in grants to map broadband use in U.S. homes, the Commerce Department said on Monday.

The mapping program is a small portion of a $7.2 billion program under the stimulus plan. It is being administered by the departments of Commerce and Agriculture to bring high speed Internet to more Americans, especially those in rural areas.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said the current and future recipients will collect and verify the availability, speed, and location of broadband in their states.

The broadband map is aimed at helping policymakers determine where services are needed the most and how to increase usage where it is already available.

The California Public Utilities Commission received $2.3 million in grants, North Carolina's Rural Economic Development Center Inc received $2 million, the Indiana Office of Technology was awarded about $1.3 million and the Vermont Center for Geographic Information got $1.2 million, NTIA said.

NTIA said it received applications from all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia to participate in the mapping program. More grant recipients are expected to be announced soon.

The four award recipients submitted well-formed proposals that are both fiscally prudent and serve as a model for others, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling said in a statement.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission, which is crafting a national broadband plan to be submitted to Congress in February estimated that total investment to expand access to all Americans and increase subscriptions could cost between $20 billion and $350 billion, depending on the quality of broadband service.

(Reporting by John Poirier; Editing by Gary Hill)