USDA Rural Broadband Program A Cautionary Tale
from the canary-in-the-coalmine dept
Despite the many flaws with the Universal Service Fund (USF), there are still some people out there that think it should be greatly expanded, so that it can subsidize the buildout of rural broadband. Although the lack of broadband remains a problem in rural areas, it's really hard to see how the USF would solve the problem, considering how ineffective the program has been. It turns out that the USDA already runs a small (by government standards) program to help subsidize rural broadband (via Broadband Reports), which -- surprise, surprise -- is riddled with problems. Congressmen are threatening to revoke the program's funding after learning that it's been subsidizing loans in areas where there's already broadband, while ignoring areas that aren't served at all. You can be sure that whatever problems this small USDA program is having will be greatly magnified if it were to be adopted on a larger scale, so hopefully politicians see this as a warning sign.