On Friday, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the National Telecom & Information Administration’s (NTIA) Request for Comment related to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) and NTIA’s responsibility in distributing more than $48 billion for broadband deployment and adoption programs. Those funds include the $42.45 billion available through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. 

“The federal government is set to spend an unprecedented amount on broadband subsidies,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “Yet we lack adequate maps as to where broadband is already deployed, and we’ve got multiple agencies doling out this money with insufficient coordination. The prospects for waste, fraud and abuse are huge. We’ll be spending money just for the sake of money, not actually closing the Digital Divide. And the only real winners appear to be consultants who are skimming their fees off the top of these awards.” 

“Did the government learn nothing from all the ‘shovel-ready’ projects that were never built with ARRA funding in 2009?” Dunstan continued. “Or will this money go toward overbuilding commercial networks that have invested almost $2 trillion since 1996 with ‘free’ government money? The amount of money needed to bring broadband to all Americans keeps rising, yet the Digital Divide doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.”

“It does little good to build new broadband networks if there’s no ongoing support for operations and maintenance (OPEX),” Dunstan concluded. “There’s no provision in the funding to support these new networks and new operators. Are they to be sold for pennies on the dollar when they go belly-up like we’ve seen so many times before?”


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