Wednesday, May 17, 2017

House Dems Propose $40B Broadband Investment | Multichannel

House Dems Propose $40B Broadband Investment | Multichannel: According to a breakout of the bill, the broadband investment is spread out over five years and will use a reverse auction to subsidize broadband in "unserved" areas (75% of the funds, or $30 billion), with the remaining 25% (that would be $10 billion) going to states via a separate reverse auction. But if there are no unserved areas in a state, that state could use the funds to serve underserved areas--or as ISPs see it, overbuild existing service--or for connecting libraries and schools or to deploy next gen 911.

The $30 billion would have to go to private entities, but the $10 billion could go to muni broadband buildouts.The broadband will have to be high-speed--at least 100 Mbps downstream, and 3 Mbps up, with a carveout for remote areas, where 25 Mbps/3 mbps would qualify. Given that it has money for muni broadband and for potential overbuilds, both of which the reigning Republican majority has issues with--as do ISPs--the bill's prospects are probably not very bright.

I tend to agree with this analysis. As long as it remains the policy of the United States to primarily rely on legacy private investor-owned telephone and cable companies to upgrade and build out modern fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure to homes, businesses and institutions, any funding allocated to public sector entities will encounter strong resistance from the telco/cableco lobby. Those industries want to retain their prerogative under the current de facto light touch regulatory regime to do so on their schedule and in neighborhoods of their choosing. Even if that means for the foreseeable, millions of Americans will remain unserved with fiber connections or even first generation DSL first rolled out in the 1990s.

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