President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan is smart to look beyond ports and potholes. But I worry about the part of the plan aimed at expanding broadband. It’s both too ambitious and not ambitious enough. The Biden plan doesn’t ask for enough money. It proposes a $100 billion budget over eight years to close America’s digital divide, similar to a parallel bill in Congress. My research team estimates the budget needs to be at least $240 billion — more than double the current target.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-GA) is pressing to expand by the end of 2021 high-speed internet access to all 24 million Americans without it. The deadline from Chairman Scott comes as bipartisan lawmakers and the broadband industry call for a permanent solution to internet access hurdles in remote locales, instead of relying on pilot loan programs.
The Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to extend broadband networks to all US households. But officials relying on industry data produced inaccurate maps of internet deployment. As a result, the US doesn’t know where to find everyone lacking service. “The biggest problem is false positives -- places shown as having broadband when they don’t,” said Michael Romano, senior vice president at NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association.
The US Supreme Court let the Federal Communications Commission ease limits on the ownership of local television and radio stations, siding with the broadcast industry and Trump-era regulators in a long-running fight. The Justices unanimously overturned an appeals court ruling that had required the FCC to first study the potential impact on female and minority ownership in the media industry. Republicans and the broadcast industry have been seeking to relax the ownership limits for decades, saying the restrictions are badly outdated.