Friday, September 11, 2009

Broadband Construction Grants Oversubscribed, Ineffective

Applications for over $28 billion have been filed in the first wave of grants to build broadband networks in underserved and unserved regions of the country, as provided by stimulus grant and loan programs administered by the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. The first wave has only $4 billion available, however, meaning there are seven times the requests as there is available cash. Congressmen and Senators are disappointed that very few of the major broadband network operating companies have applied for any of the money, put off by the onerous conditions imposed on users of the funds.

Congressman Rick Boucher, chairman of the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told his panel today that major changes in the grant and loan programs are required to make certain that broadband networks built using taxpayer cash are fast enough to be commercially useful, and built first in areas where no internet service is currently available. Boucher is especially concerned that the current definition of "underserved" excludes any locale within 50 miles of a city of more than 20,000 people. This definition, he contends, excludes isolated communities in almost all the rural east coast.

Unfortunately for the construction industry, tinkering with the program definitions will only delay availability of funding for these projects.
blog comments powered by Disqus