Political parties are that broadband is needed but not on the solutions

Vox details the differences in how Republicans and Democrats see broadband. First there was a difference in the investment…

While Republicans and the White House are still debating the cost of the overall infrastructure package, they have come to an agreement on how much the package should spend on broadband — $65 billion — after Biden agreed to compromise last week. The new figure represents a significant reduction from his original broadband proposal, which had a $100 billion price tag. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was “all in the spirit of finding common ground.” It appears the details are still being figured out.

There is a debate about investing in public versus private providers…

One key disagreement is a long-simmering debate over the idea of municipal broadband. Throughout the United States, some local governments, nonprofits, and co-ops have made long-term investments to build their own broadband networks without relying on the private sector. Biden is a big fan of this approach. The White House calls these municipal broadband networks “providers with less pressure to turn profits and with a commitment to serving entire communities.” Notably, large cable companies that benefit from being the only provider in many areas don’t like this competition, and they have even lobbied for legislation banning them. Broadband Now, an internet provider website, says municipal broadband is now restricted in at least 18 states.

There is a debate about whether to invest in now or the future…

Public versus private investment is not, however, the only fault line in the recent bipartisan consensus over funding broadband. There’s also long and ongoing disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over what kind of technology should be deployed to facilitate these internet connections. Right now, many get their internet routed to their homes through coaxial cable networks, while some are still dependent on DSL-copper phone lines, which are even slower. Biden thinks that should change, and that US broadband should be high-speed and “future proof,” a term Republicans have interpreted as code for fiber. Fiber, advocates have argued, would last for decades and could be easily adjusted to account for higher and higher speed demands.

But Republicans have said that the Biden definition of high-speed and “future proof” would make too many households eligible for subsidies that could go to people who don’t necessarily need internet updates.

This entry was posted in Funding, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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