Some of the largest ISP’s such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, may not apply for stimulus funds to expand their services to rural areas of our country. These same ISP’s have blocked cities and smaller companies from actually providing the services as well.
This from an article over at DSL reports says it all:
The nation’s super carriers, already flush with cash reserves, had no real intention of pursuing the funds anyway, but it gives their lobbying organizations a nice opportunity to publicly grandstand about the unfairness of the fairly tepid network neutrality protections attached to the funds. Like any American company, these carriers prefer their taxpayer dollars with no conditions and no accountability. Of course, there’s no denying the long and sordid history of these carriers taking incentives, tax breaks and subsidies, with politicians conveniently falling asleep when it came time to see if promises were kept, or if the incentives were used as intended.
Giving millions to these companies may not make sense anyway, given most of them have no real interest in rural deployment, and in many cases have already spent millions on lobbying efforts geared toward banning towns and cities from wiring themselves when major ISPs wouldn’t (surely somebody somewhere sees the irony here). As it stands, there’s a flood of new rural-focused ISPs and smaller wireless operators for whom the funds make much more sense. These smaller carriers actually want to do business in rural America, and actually need the cash.
Hopefully the administration and the FCC can come up with some solutions that will allow smaller companies and local governments to provide broadband services for their rural areas. Letting the largest ISP’s dictate policy will result in the U.S. trailing other countries, some 14 of which already exceed our lackluster broadband services.
It is time to offer the large ISP’s the opportunity to expand their services to rural areas. But should they decline, it may be time to change the rules of the game to best serve the consumers who live outside of major cities.