Federal Programs for Rural Broadband
Due to factors including large distances between households and difficult terrain to build on, there can be enormous costs to build broadband networks in many rural communities. Federal programs, sometimes including public-private partnerships, offer ISPs some support to expand their networks and can be beneficial when properly implemented.
How Can Federal Programs Work Better for
More Broadband Buildout?
Target scarce funds where people lack service, not on funding a second competitor in areas that already are served. Better broadband maps will help with this, so the FCC should implement the mapping requirements of the Broadband DATA Act to ensure that areas without broadband are more precisely identified.
Implement competitive bidding processes in government programs that maximize participation by qualified broadband providers on projects, and also maximize the best return on funding used in these subsidy programs. Using a “reverse auction” competitive bidding process will connect the most unserved homes, for the least per home subsidy, at the highest speed.
Remove regulatory impediments to broadband deployment, such as permitting delays and excessive pole attachment rates by municipalities and co-ops, and encourage “dig once” policies, will help accelerate buildout.
Let all ISPs participate in federal programs without favoring a particular technology. Federal initiatives should also remove outdated, anti-competitive, and burdensome regulatory barriers to provider participation, such as the legacy telephone-focused Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) requirement.
Have a coordinated approach through the FCC that directs federal resources toward achieving the nation’s universal service goals.
Demand accountability in federal support programs to ensure that subsidies achieve their intended results.