Wall St Journal gives broadband view of proposed federal legislation for broadband funding

The Wall Street Journal reports

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill moving through the Senate this week stands to be a windfall for cable and fiber-optic internet companies, with $65 billion allocated to improve internet access for poor and isolated communities. The plan, which must still be reconciled with a House version, would help home internet providers such as AT&T Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. by providing $40 billion in grants that states can dole out to operators that expand their networks to households that lack high-speed service.

There are things the providers are expected to like and not like…

The latest version of the bill hammered out Sunday came as a relief to some in the telecom industry who opposed measures being considered in previous iterations, including mandated higher internet speed requirements and incentives for companies looking to compete with existing cable and telephone operators. There are still some provisions that broadband providers will likely chafe at, including proposed rules that force them to plainly disclose the service levels and prices they offer, said Blair Levin, a market analyst at New Street Research.

Here are some of the issues with continuing the lower speed target…

Broadband providers dodged another bullet when the Senate bill adopted a threshold of 100 megabits per second for broadband downloads with 20 Mbps uploads for new grants. Consumer advocates had pushed the government to require higher speeds as a precondition for funding, but many cable networks aren’t designed to fit faster uploads. The new broadband standard means companies that offer service over coaxial cables as well as fiber-optic lines can benefit from federal funding. The standard also allows newer companies like Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, to compete for grants for their internet-beaming satellite constellations. Consumer advocates have meanwhile complained that the legislation avoided mandating more aggressive measures to expand internet access. The grants stop short of supporting government-owned networks that could compete with cable companies, for instance. “I don’t see anything in here that will change the structure of the market to create real competition,” said Christopher Mitchell, director of the community broadband networks program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

This entry was posted in Funding, Policy, Vendors 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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