Public complaints on USDA’s Rural broadband plan

Investigate Midwest reports on public comment to proposed federal investment in rural broadband. The quick take on the action (or proposed action) in question: in January 2017, the President promised better broadband for rural areas. Following the promise, U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed the Rural Broadband Pilot Program. There was a budget (in 2018) of $600 million and a proposed budget in 2019 of $425 million BUT the Office of Management and Budget called out that amount given, the 2018 funds hadn’t been used.

That’s a very quick take because the real story is the comments on the action and proposed action. Investigate Midwest reports…

While nearly all the comments were in favor of the Rural Utilities Service’s efforts to expand broad internet, there were 3,659 references to the idea that the pilot program’s standards for speed were either not fast enough, they were focused on speed but not bandwidth, or the speed at which technology is advancing would leave those speeds obsolete in just a few years.

There were a few categories of complaints

  • Inadequate speed goals
  • Eligibility for funding (unserved vs served)
  • Accuracy of broadband maps
  • Cost

It sounds a lot like what I hear in Minnesota. One quick number I picked up in the article…

Rural Americans can pay as much as $155/month for service slower than the Federal Communications Commission classifies as “high speed internet.”

I have heard of people paying more – especially when they end up using a mobile hotspot for coverage. (Right now I have a college kid using a mobile hotspot for her broadband; I cringe with each text telling me about the $5 surcharge for additional coverage.)

This entry was posted in FCC, Policy, Research, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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