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Billions in federal broadband funding at risk of waste and duplication, Report

The “Redlight report” has raised about the effectiveness of the Biden administration’s $42.45 billion allocation of Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding.

The report, authored by Senator Ted Cruz, Ranking Member U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation alleges that the substantial allocation of taxpayer dollars may lead to wasteful spending and duplication of efforts in the quest to provide high-speed Internet access to all Americans.

The report highlights three critical findings:

Exorbitant Per-Beneficiary Costs: The BEAD allocations provide over $10,000 per unserved location in ten states and territories, including a staggering $547,254 per unserved location in Washington, D.C. These high per-beneficiary costs have raised eyebrows and questions about the allocation’s efficiency.

Lack of Coordination with Previous Programs: The BEAD program apparently failed to consider whether a location would already receive funding from previous federal programs. As a result, it allocated funds to more than five million locations already supported by other federal initiatives. This oversight could divert billions in taxpayer dollars away from connecting unserved Americans.

Bias Against Non-Fiber Broadband: The report suggests that the Biden administration’s preference for fiber broadband may lead to inflated costs, potentially depriving some communities of any broadband access at all. Furthermore, taxpayer-subsidized fiber-to-the-home services are set to be provided to locations often associated with affluence, such as mansions, beachfront resort communities, and mountain vacation homes, raising questions about fairness in resource allocation.

The report’s conclusions have prompted skepticism about the effectiveness of the BEAD program and its ability to achieve its goal of providing broadband access to every American. Lawmakers and experts are calling on the Biden administration and states to ensure that BEAD funding is used efficiently and not wasted on duplicative or wasteful projects.

This report underscores a recurring theme in U.S. politics – the allocation of taxpayer dollars to address pressing issues without achieving lasting solutions. Access to high-speed Internet is crucial in the digital age, and there is a bipartisan consensus on the need to bridge the digital divide. However, concerns about the allocation and execution of substantial federal funding continue to cloud the path to universal broadband access.

For report,

CT Bureau

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