Broadband Stimulus Story
While all the focus of the media and blogs these past few months has been about health care reform, another important issue is slowly moving its way through the FCC and Congress. From banks, to the automobile industry, health care, to now the internet. Our government is in the process of shelling out over $7 BILLION dollars in grants as part of the economic stimulus package to phone, cable, and internet providers. OR ARE THEY?
A little over half of the money is set to go towards ‘broadband infrastructure investment over the next two years’, specifically in un-served and underserved areas of the country to both promote broadband usage and to also sure-up public safety communications. This part sounds all well and good.
However, like every other needless service government provides, there is a catch, one that may cause some of the biggest phone, cable, and internet providers (Cox, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc) to say ‘no’ to any of these grants and all of this seemingly ‘free’ government cheese.
The catch; anyone receiving any of this grant money must adhere to the strict net-neutrality guidelines laid forth by the federal government and the FCC. (Sounds pretty similar to the caveats associated with TARP Funds, remember?)
First off, “net-neutrality”, is a mis-coined term, one that is supposed to describe the ability of all data that travels over the internet to be ‘equal’. Achieving complete and total equality though is impossible. Every network needs to be, and currently is, managed. Network management practices provide consumers with safe, reliable, and high quality broadband services to access the internet. The difference here is, do you want your government managing and regulating your internet or your private internet provider?
It should be noted that it is already illegal for any provider block, interfere, or degrade any access to the internet. Consumers can already go anywhere they want on the web, use any tool and software they want, access any content they want, and use any service online they’d like. Everything is available to everyone. What’s does the government think is not equal or not being made available to the public?
I guess one answer to that question, is internet service to rural areas, but instead of buying-off companies with our tax dollars to lay rural broadband infrastructure, the federal government should simply pause, and wait for the private sector with its own money to build it. In the past 10 years, private company investment in broadband networks has tallied over $850 million. Over the past four years, broadband connectivity has skyrocketed to up over 300%, totaling more than 100 million wired, wireless, and satellite broadband connections in the United States. Did you catch that?
Internet connectivity is increasing by over 300%, on a 10-year $850 million investment from private internet companies over the past 4-years. Our government wants to now spend over $7 BILLION this year. What’s the definition of ‘overkill’? Is it any wonder our national deficit is out of control.
I guess we should expect a 2,460% increase in broadband usage over the next couple years. I doubt it though.
Yet another great example of why another stimulus will be about as successful as the last one.