What will BEAD mean for the poorest US communities?
How much impact will the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program—and the connectivity it brings—have on the poorest, most underserved pockets of the country? “Broadband deployment in this country has been market-driven, with private sector telephone and cable companies investing in areas that provide higher rates of return,” said Kathryn de Wit, Project Director for the Broadband Access Initiative with the Pew Charitable Trusts. “Profit and return are important to the long-term operation of networks, even for ISPs receiving government subsidies. Unfortunately, there have been too few policy requirements ensuring that networks built with those subsidies are reaching low-income households.” Such is the never-ending loop: Small, rural communities have less dense populations. They’re expensive to reach, so ISPs don’t build out services. That’s where the promise of BEAD comes in and may potentially change that trajectory.
What will BEAD mean for the poorest U.S. communities?