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The overwhelming demand for broadband investment

A number of developments around Broadband, starting with this from Politico:

More than 230 communities across 49 states and U.S. territories are seeking part of pandemic relief funds that Congress created in December.  This is the $288 million Broadband Infrastructure Program, which took grant applications through Aug. 17. The amount requested totaled more than eight times what Congress had granted.

The Commerce Department cautioned the high volume of applications for its Broadband Infrastructure Program will mean “highly competitive” vetting of grant applicants. Priority will go to cost-effectiveness, those proposing to serve the greatest number of households in an eligible area and targeting rural areas and those providing internet speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second download and 20 upload (much faster than the FCC minimum definition of broadband, which is 25/3 Mbps).

Which continued to play out the next day in Politico.    

It’s not just local and state governments looking for investments.   A coalition representing schools and libraries is urging Congress to replenish funding for an FCC funding program aimed at boosting connectivity for students, school staff and library patrons.

According to FCC data released Wednesday, schools and libraries have already submitted requests totaling more than $5.1 billion, to pay for 9.1 million devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, via applications for the agency’s $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund — in other words, more than 70 percent of the available funding. Twelve states and Puerto Rico submitted requests that totaled at least $100 million each, with California requesting more than $800 million.   The FCC announced it would open a second 15-day application filing window from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13.

Axios is meanwhile reporting on the FCC being left out of the broadband deployment projects.    Under fire for how it handled awards in 2020, the agency is investing to get more data and examine how it previously gave awards.  

Why do we care?

I’ll observe there wouldn’t be this much demand if broadband in the US was available.     Fund a program and see overwhelming demand, and there’s clearly as massive need.

I’ll broadly criticize the teleco industry here – if you were meeting market demand, which you clearly are not, there wouldn’t be this broad a problem.    We care because this is a limiting factor to IT services.     If the market won’t fix the problem, it seems government will need to – and thus why we care.