NTIA Doles Out Another $277 Million In Broadband Grants

from the more-broadband-now dept

Thanks to the one-two punch of the infrastructure bill and COVID relief, there’s more money sloshing around in the U.S. broadband ecosystem than perhaps any time in history. $46 billion (with a b) is slated to be distributed by the government over the next year, much of it overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The NTIA this week announced it would be issuing an additional $1 million to Tribal leaders for broadband as well as $277 million in new grants to select communities around the U.S.:

The grants were awarded to 12 states and one territory: Georgia, Guam, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. More information on each of these grant projects is provided in the table below.

There is, of course, no shortage of irony that many of these states (particularly states like West Virginia) still lack widely available, affordable broadband in 2022 because state leaders routinely coddle regional telecom monopolies (like AT&T, Frontier Communications, or Comcast).

And while so much of this funding will absolutely aid broadband expansion, much of it will be overseen by state leaders who’ve routinely funneled countless billions to said monopolies in exchange for broadband networks that mysteriously always wind up half deployed.

That in turn has left many local communities in these states not only struggling to cobble together their own local broadband solutions, but doing so while fighting the entrenched political power of dominant regional monopolies wielding lawsuits, terrible legislation written by telecom lobbyists, and propaganda.

At the same time, thanks to the federal government’s multi-decade failure to accurately map broadband availability and pricing (again the result of sustained lobbying by dominant incumbents), many towns and cities are forced to then take additional time to accurately measure the scope of the problem, something entrenched incumbents, again, challenge every step of the way.

So again, the core problem with U.S. broadband isn’t (in contrast to conventional wisdom) a matter of cost, technology, or willpower. The problem isn’t the subsidies (though fraud and waste have been common throughout the quest to fix things).

The problem is corruption and a longstanding practice of lobbyists luring lawmakers into a stupored defense of the broken status quo. Fortunately, the NTIA has at least finally been making strides on more accurate mapping with an eye on affordability and competition, so hopefully this historic infusion of new broadband subsidies doesn’t wind up wasted.

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Comments on “NTIA Doles Out Another $277 Million In Broadband Grants”

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1 Comment
Pixelation says:

Well, at least AT&T execs will get to have some more nice things because of this.

It will go something like…”Sir, we’ve used about a quarter of the grant money to, um, “expand broadband”, how would you like us to proceed?”

“Well, now that regulators have been paid enough to stop looking, funnel the rest into the executive retirement fund.”

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