Evaluating State Broadband Efforts: Insights from the Broadband Barometer Project

As the country races into its digital transformation, the expansion of broadband across the United States has become a pivotal undertaking. There are numerous state and federal efforts, fueled largely by over $70 billion of federal taxpayer dollars. States are at the forefront, receiving about $42.5 billion to implement the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program under the watchful eye of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In many ways, it’s a collective effort and the agencies and persons involved should be commended for their efforts.

But historically, such initiatives have stumbled due to three key shortcomings: a lack of competitive processes, insufficient accountability measures, and a dearth of transparency that would otherwise shine a light on program performance for policymakers and the public. In some cases, the government distributed funds to companies without specific funding conditions, resulting in minimal broadband expansion and billions of dollars wasted. In others, political meddling skewed the allocation of funds. Money went to the well-connected, who added little to the country’s inventory of broadband connections and who often closed their doors once the taxpayer money was spent. And some programs, such as those intended to ensure affordability for the poor, continued for years without serious review or delivering tangible benefits.

Read Dr. Jamison’s complete blog post at AEI.