The US House and Senate will soon begin final negotiations on the Economic Stimulus package. Given the massive size of this legislation, it may be easy to overlook the nearly $7 billion dollars included for broadband build out. The recently passed Senate version of the bill allocates at least 50% of those funds to expanding broadband access to rural parts of the country still heavily reliant on dial up connections.
However, as with many parts of the stimulus package – the questions remain:
#1 – How many jobs can/will be created by an initiative like this?
#2 – How quickly can these projects begin?
#3 – Once available, how many will actually sign up to use these new networks?
#4 – How far will increased broadband access go in stimulating the economy?
Outside of the interest groups that stand to directly benefit from this legislation – no one seems able or willing to answer these questions with any degree of confidence. Nevertheless, Washington appears ready to include broadband expansion in its nearly trillion dollar – roll of the dice.
Saul Hansell NY Times 1/21/2009
Does Broadband Need a Stimulus?
Stacey Higginbotham GigaOm 2/10/2009
How the Stimulus Package Fails Rural Broadband