Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Reps. Huffman, Thompson, and Nolan Introduce the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Investment Act | Congressman Jared Huffman

Reps. Huffman, Thompson, and Nolan Introduce the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Investment Act | Congressman Jared Huffman: Washington, DC – Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rick Nolan (D-MN) today introduced the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Investment Act, which would unlock new opportunities for broadband deployment on California’s North Coast and in rural communities across America. The bill would make North Coast communities eligible for $670 million in federal broadband financing; promote regional broadband solutions by allowing the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to offer broadband grants in addition to loans and loan guarantees; and increase overall RUS broadband investment to $50 million annually from $25 million. The legislation builds on the successful legacy of the Rural Electrification Act, which brought power and telephone service to rural communities across America during the New Deal.

This is a well intended but grossly underfunded bill. Too little, too late. As Fletcher Kittredge, chief executive officer of Great Works Internet and a member of the Maine Broadband Coalition put it earlier this year, "[t]his is not a million-dollar problem. It is far larger.”

Allocating millions isn't going to build telecom infrastructure the runs in the billions to build. Constructing fiber to serve every premise in the City of Santa Cruz, California, for example, would cost an estimated $30 million -- a major chunk of the $50 million the federal bill would appropriate to the RUS for the entire United States. (h/t to Steve Blum's Blog).

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