Will Broadband Be Affordable? Assessing Regulations for Broadband Subsidies

After years of market-based pricing for broadband, state and federal officials are considering price controls to ensure affordability. One might think that broadband is already affordable given that the industry grew faster than the US economy for 15 of the past 16 years. But officials implementing Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which provides billions for broadband expansion, are exploring price regulations for service to low-income and middle-income households. The IIJA requires special pricing for low-income households, but not for others.

Will these government officials re-create telecommunications regulation? How would regulation affect affordability? Would price regulations improve or hinder market efficiency? How would controls affect broadband availability and competition for subsidies? What are other options for ensuring affordability?

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