About That Omnibus Broadband Cash

– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and GOP FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly both offered words of caution Wednesday about how the federal government should spend the $600 million going to the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service for a broadband pilot as part of the recent omnibus spending law. “There was $600 million in there ostensibly for rural broadband,” Cruz said during an event hosted by Charter Communications. He complained of what he viewed as wasted money from the billions of dollars spent on broadband stimulus under the Obama administration: “A lot of that money ended up nowhere near rural broadband.” He prefers removing regulatory barriers, he added, lauding the nimbleness of the private sector.

– O’Rielly, meanwhile, said “it is imperative that RUS coordinate with the FCC to ensure the implementation of regulations prevent any overbuilding” with recipients of the commission’s broadband subsidies, in a blog post. “Without careful planning … valuable funding could be wasted duplicating service, distorting competition, and undermining the viability of existing and ongoing efforts to extend broadband.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday that staff is sorting out buildout and eligibility requirements for the pilot.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

“Overbuilding” is the code word for protecting legacy telco that provides slow, unreliable broadband from getting a municipal network competitor that can offer 21st-century high-speed broadband at a reasonable cost. It is all about making sure the $600 million ends up in the pocket of the legacy telcos, not some innovator with better service at a reasonable cost.

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