Can Billions of Dollars in Federal Grants Solve Broadband Access and Availability Throughout the US?

On July 21, Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) joined AEI’s Shane Tews and Mark Jamison to discuss how the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program could be hampered by misguided priorities and cumbersome regulations. Following the discussion with Commissioner Carr, an expert panel convened.

Commissioner Carr explained that while enough money has already been dedicated to closing the digital divide, obstacles persist. Funding is scattered over several agencies and hundreds of different programs all while the US lacks an overarching national broadband strategy to ensure the effectiveness of programs like BEAD.

Duke University’s Michelle Connolly explained how the criteria for using BEAD funds disregard speed and quality of connection in favor of using unionized labor and promoting net neutrality. Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, detailed how Washington’s red tape made increasing broadband adoption unnecessarily difficult.

The Technology Policy Institute’s Sarah Oh Lam explained how the aforementioned challenges are reinforced by the fact that the data and maps the FCC and government organizations use are misleading or even wrong. Dr. Jamison indicated another problem we face is deploying broadband to already well-connected communities, a phenomenon known as overbuilding.

Watch the recorded livestream of this event below or at AEI.