It’s smart to try to find out what’s working on what’s not with federal funding for broadband – especially as we’re looking at tremendous amounts of funding soon. Hearing from providers is helpful; I hope they are getting feedback from communities too. NCTA reports…
Midco is a leader in the rural broadband industry serving over 490,000 homes and businesses across South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, and Wisconsin. The company has invested over $765 million in private capital in the last six years to extend and upgrade its fiber network – in places like Hartford, South Dakota – despite some of its communities housing less than 100 people.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Midco will share its experiences connecting the Midwest and discuss challenges and solutions facing rural broadband deployment.
Here’s a list of the problems they see…
- The insufficient focus on directing funds to genuinely unserved areas wastes government resources and encourages overbuilding in areas already burdened by challenging economics.
- Legacy application requirements for certain experienced businesses that discourage participation by companies.
- The lack of sufficient coordination between the many agencies giving out broadband funding, which can lead to overbuilding and forum shopping.
- The lack of flexibility in program speed thresholds to permit alternative platform solutions like fixed wireless to be used when the per-household costs of a terrestrial fiber solution may be cost-prohibitive.
Here are their recommendations…
- Require that at least 90% of households in a proposed service area lack broadband access.
- Prioritize applications in areas without 25/3 service.
- Update buildout speed requirements that would consider different technological solutions to connect hard-to-reach areas.
- Exclude funding in areas where providers have already been granted funding under another government program, unless used by the same provider for different expenses or to achieve expedited deployment milestones.
- Simplify the application process.
- Establish better communication between federal agencies to ensure transparency and avoid duplication of funding.