Federal Stimulus Fails to Resolve Gaps in Internet Access

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 12:43 PM

By Alec Weisman

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Although federal stimulus programs have allocated $7.2 billion to provide high-speed Internet access to rural communities, some areas of the country remain without access because of inefficiency and waste, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Other areas, meanwhile have gained a disproportionate share of attention and money from the programs, leading to duplicative high-speed services.

Meanwhile some states, including California and Mississippi, failed to receive federal funds due to faulty information.

These complaints are driving a House subcommittee on communications and technology to hold a hearing later this week on whether the broadband stimulus money was put to good use in an effort to determine if taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment.

As part of the 2009 $800 billion stimulus package, the government allocated $4.7 billion to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and an additional $2.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service to expand broadband access.

Both agencies claim their programs have been largely successful, according to the Journal.

The money has helped develop 86,000 miles of broadband infrastructure connecting 12,000 town hubs, schools, hospitals, libraries, and other important institutions.


In addition, the Federal Communications Commission says the amount of Americans lacking high-speed service has fallen to 19 million, only about 6 percent of the population, down from 26 million a year ago.

But problems do persist.

In Dixie County, Fla., for example, a private-government partnership received $31 million in high-speed grant money, raising hopes that the digital divide would soon be a thing of the past. But the program was ditched when county officials disagreed over how to implement the service to both homes and businesses.

In Colorado, the story was different. A consortium there that got more than $101 million has been criticized for building duplicative services.



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