In a rebuttal to a previous letter to the editor, Representative Joe Hoppe posts a letter to the editor in the Brainerd Dispatch supporting a broadband challenge process for incumbents when someone submits a proposal to serve their area or an adjacent area…
It seems to me that a challenge process might prevent broadband grants from being awarded to areas eligible for a federal broadband grant program or, more importantly, from being used in an area that already has broadband available. The letter writer may think it makes sense for limited public dollars to be awarded to duplicate existing broadband services, but I do not and apparently neither does the Democrat-controlled Senate or the governor who signed the broadband legislation and agreed to the funding level as well as the challenge language.
If we are going to use taxpayer dollars to bring broadband to rural areas as this program purports to do, the focus should be on those who cannot get broadband service due to lack of coverage and not those areas that are already eligible for federal funding or that have broadband available. It is time to stop making broadband a political issue. There are legitimate needs in Minnesota, unfortunately rhetoric doesn’t help move things forward.
I think it all depends on your definition of broadband – and I think that highlights a nerdy but important change in the latest round of broadband funding. Unserved areas will be defined by areas that have service less than 25 Mbps down and 3 up. Underserved areas have service less than 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. Many providers (especially in rural areas) do not offer speeds of 25/3 or 100/20. And federally funding does not require those speeds.
This is a good way to help providers to step it up. Federal funding is great – but not if it doesn’t support speeds that make a difference.