Trump infrastructure plan not likely to impact rural broadband

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[Commentary] While the public still has no more than a leaked plan and vague State of the Union statements of aspirations, it appears the Trump administration's proposed approach to broadband infrastructure will end up delivering little of the abundant bandwidth the country’s rural areas need to thrive in the digital age. The original source of the rural broadband problem is how the administration apparently proposes to divide total investment. The leaked plan creates various buckets, with each getting a set allocation of the federal dollars. Right away, half of the funding will go to “core infrastructure projects” that does not include the telecommunications sector. The remaining dollars are split among: transformative projects (10 percent); rural infrastructure projects (25 percent); a Federal Credit fund to boost support for current federal lending programs (7.05 percent); and several smaller buckets for which broadband would not be eligible. At best, broadband would always compete with other categories of infrastructure. Further, broadband likely will fare poorly in that competition.

[Blair Levin is a nonresident senior fellow with Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program. He serves as the executive director of Gig.U: The Next Generation Network Innovation Project, an initiative of three dozen leading research university communities seeking to support educational and economic development by accelerating the deployment of next generation networks. He he oversaw the development of a National Broadband Plan.]


Trump infrastructure plan not likely to impact rural broadband