The rural telecom industry is in the midst of a $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program which aims to bring broadband to unserved and underserved communities, while also creating jobs in those same communities. Among the many ‘rubs’ with the current program, some argue $7.2 billion can only put a small dent in a universal broadband goal. Some important people may be listening to that argument.
On Monday, President Obama announced his intention to devote $50 billion to additional infrastructure projects, broadband included. The Hill website quotes Obama as saying “We’re talking about the smart grid…and broadband Internet,” arguing that the U.S. should have the best infrastructure “in the world.” The Obama administration says the new funding would come from the scaling back of current oil and gas industry tax incentives.
There are not a ton of details surrounding this potential additional broadband funding program. The administration has, in the past, signaled their belief that the current broadband stimulus program was just a down payment on their broadband goals. Political and economic realities softened that approach somewhat. It looks like it may be back on the table.