A Simple Proposal to Help Rural Persistent Poverty Counties

Without affordable, high-quality broadband, persistent poverty counties in the United States have no chance. As a nation currently spending upwards of $100 billion in public funds on broadband, helping these counties is the least we can do. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) contains a provision that

How the FCC wasted $45 billion on rural “broadband” and what the current FCC/Congress/Administration should have learned.

Before spending an additional $100 billion of public money on rural broadband, avoiding the mistakes of the past decade would be a good place to start.

Lesson #1: The digital divide was not a consequence of rural economics; it has been the policy of the federal government. Broadband is not simply a speed at a point in time. Rather than focus on a short-term goal of attaining any particular speed, public funding is better spent on long-term infrastructure, best defined as assets with a life of at least thirty years.

A New Section 254: A “Connect All Americans” Proposal

A proposal to move the decisions about rural investment from Washington policymakers to individual rural Americans. If we change the locus of decisionmaking, the power will shift from lobbying and campaign contributions to service and consumer spending. Such a shift would spur rural investment and would also prevent most rural areas from being locked into one technology or one service provider. The following is an updated legislative or regulatory proposal for a new Section 254.

Fix the RDOF now

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission received a letter from members of Congress urging it to use the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund long-form application process to ensure that winning bidders are capable of meeting their obligations. To honor Congressional intent, safeguard the public’s money and deliver necessary services to rural America, I suggest the FCC should:

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund: A Proposal to Include Local Community Support in the Auction

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is the most significant rural infrastructure initiative of our time. At over $20 billion, there is sufficient funding in the RDOF to support the most advanced fiber optic services to every rural home in the nation. The program has the potential to become the Rural Electrification Act of our generation, especially if it fosters the same spirit of local initiative, local ownership and local control.