Not everyone thinks so. Here are a few extracts of recently published on-line articles:
Obama’s Broadband Plan Disappoints Telecommunications Companies
The current House version of the $825 billion stimulus package sets aside just $6 billion for broadband deployment, about a third of the amount that some Democratic lawmakers had wanted. In addition, the money comes with conditions that some companies said discourage them from participating in the program.
That disappointment is shared by lawmakers such as U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, who had been pushing for as much as $15 billion in the stimulus proposal to extend the reach of broadband. “I don’t think it’s enough,” said Eshoo of the current plan.
Under the current plan, the government is going to administer two grant programs, one through the Department of Commerce and another through the Department of Agriculture.
Companies that accept grants would have to fulfill several conditions such as a timetable for starting and finishing completion of the networks.
The grants would be conditioned on companies building so- called open-access networks, which would allow other companies to offer competing service over the same lines.
Those requirements, which are still vague, are causing concern among the companies that would be most likely to participate in the program.
“We thought this effort was supposed to be about stimulating the economy and stimulating investment and not chilling investment, and frankly additional conditions would likely do that,” said David Zesiger, the senior vice president for public policy and external affairs for Embarq Holdings Co. LLC., an independent local phone company based in Overland Park, Kansas.
Why the Stimulus Bill Discounts Broadband
Only $6 billion (out of the $825 billion proposal) was targeted at broadband, far short of the $12 billion to $30 billion that industry experts estimate it would cost to wire the nation. The House bill allocated the same amount of money to weatherizing the homes of low- and moderate-income people.
The stimulus proposal still has to make its way through the Senate and may be changed substantially before it’s signed by the President. (We have seen Congress turn a horse into a camel many times before). Many in the tech industry are contemplating some tough questions:
-Why did broadband get slighted?
-Will the technology get more government funding in the future?
-Does the debate over broadband foreshadow how the technology community will be treated in the future by the Obama Administration?
There’s also an information gap. There are no clear, comprehensive data on which regions need broadband investment, which fueled concerns that it would be difficult to spend money quickly and wisely
Obama’s broadband stimulus: throwing money at wrong target?
“The current draft of the broadband part of the stimulus package focuses on providing grants to companies that are willing to deploy wireless or wired broadband in underserved areas. The bill mandates open access to any services that result from such grants.
The Pew report says that some people (more than 15%) have no interest in getting online. Another 6% think the price is too high, and 5% have usability problems. The president’s plan is unlikely to change these numbers much.”
Our take: In addition to direct aid and tax incentives, the U.S. government needs to make more licensed spectrum available at a low enough cost for rural independent telcos and WISPs, to enable them to build out broadband wireless networkr. If little or no spectrum is made available, then the resulting unlicensed broadband wireless deployments will be based on mesh WiFi or proprietary techologies- not WiMAX. And they won’t be always be reliable or even available, due to interference from the many appliances operating at 2.4GHz frequency, most commonly used for mesh WiFi networks.
This topic should be of keen interest to independent telcos. What do you think the Obama Stimulus Package will do for broadband wireless growth in the U.S., particularly for WiMAX in rural or underserved areas? Please weigh in with your opinion by using the Comment form below.