Industry lobbying keeps public in the dark about broadband

Washingtonians get less bang for their broadband buck than every state in the nation except Alaska, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Industry lobbying keeps public in the dark about broadband
The government is spending up to $350 million of taxpayer money to create a map that will show where there is high-speed Internet service in the United States and where there is not. Despite the large expenditure of taxpayer funds, it will display no information on price or subscriber numbers. Internet connection speeds will be averaged over an entire metropolitan area and an as-yet unknown portion of the data collected to make the map will be off-limits to the public.

And in an odd twist, state grantees getting paid to collect the information are expected to get some of their data from the Federal Communications Commission, begging the question – why not require the FCC to create the map and save $350 million?
The mapping program is being paid for by the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus package, which includes $7.2 billion for broadband projects. The text of the plan, though, comes from a different piece of legislation: the Broadband Data Improvement Act, a 2008 law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Republican president, George W. Bush.
The lack of a requirement for robust, public data in the legislation is no accident. It is a testament to the lobbying power of the nation’s providers of high-speed Internet service, which for the past decade have stifled government efforts to collect and make public data that could help the nation determine the width and depth of the so-called digital divide.
Digital Divide/Equity Articles, Wireless Networks,

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