Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…
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Ramirez Cartoon: Turning Your Back to Make a Point

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez……[more]

July 08, 2021 • 11:36 AM

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Home Press Room Coalition to FCC: Broadband Subsidies Meant for Truly Unserved Areas, Not Some of Nation’s Most Well-Connected and Wealthy Communities
Coalition to FCC: Broadband Subsidies Meant for Truly Unserved Areas, Not Some of Nation’s Most Well-Connected and Wealthy Communities Print
Tuesday, May 18 2021

In a letter submitted today to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” of “Commission”), a broad coalition of national organizations and individual policy experts from across the ideological spectrum noted widespread concerns about the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband maps and called the Commission’s attention to newly released information from the Competitive Carriers Association (“CCA”) that questions thousands of locations where significant Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) funding is set to be awarded to subsidize areas that are served today.

The letter reads, in part:

CCA recently compared RDOF auction results to publicly available data about broadband access. By overlapping speed test data on RDOF areas, CCA found that nearly 286,000 locations with almost 403,000 people that are poised to receive scarce broadband subsidies already have robust connectivity. Indeed, CCA found that current awards are set to deploy between $144 million and $1 billion to subsidize broadband deployment to areas that are well served today. These errors are especially troubling because RDOF Phase I awards were supposed to go to those most in need—areas “wholly unserved” by broadband. If a single household within an area was found to have broadband service, that area was intended to be considered for support later, in RDOF Phase II.

Unfortunately, RDOF’s first round is poised to send scarce federal dollars to some of the most connected, dense, and wealthy communities in the country rather than targeting only “wholly unserved” areas. CCA found that subsidies are targeted for:

  • Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Fisherman’s Wharf, the popular urban center and tourist destination in San Francisco
  • Chicago’s Inner Loop business district
  • Large international airports, like DFW International in Dallas-Ft. Worth and SFO International in San Francisco

The coalition is calling on the FCC “to devote resources to review questionable applications before dollars go out the door,” and explains that “CCA provides a useful playbook for doing so.”

Publicly available data led CCA and could lead the Commission to scrutinize awarded areas that crowdsourcing shows have robust broadband access. CCA also used Census data on population density and household income, which the Commission has recognized are highly correlated with broadband access. The FCC has the authority to require awardees to update their Commission filings with accurate broadband access data, and with the promise of billions of dollars of federal subsidies, it is appropriate that awardees assist the Commission in that effort. The undersigned groups have a strong interest in bridging the digital divide and ensuring that ratepayers’ dollars are well spent. We stand ready to assist.

The letter, which was led by the Center for Individual Freedom, is also signed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Jennifer Huddleston, National Grange, National Taxpayers Union, Public Knowledge and R Street Institute.

Read the letter here (PDF).

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