It’s hard to believe the Broadband Stimulus Program was first announced over six years ago. The $7.2 billion program was part of the broader American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which aimed to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession of 2008.
The Rural Utilities Service just announced their portion of broadband stimulus program results, which offered $2.9 billion in funding for mostly last mile access programs. NTIA also administered a larger portion of the program, focused on middle mile and anchor institutions.
“I am proud to announce today that all of the active projects USDA has financed through the Recovery Act are now providing broadband service in rural areas nationwide,” said RUS Administrator Brandon McBride in a press release. “In 2009, the Obama Administration pushed for, and Congress provided USDA with, an unprecedented level of funding and five years to connect rural areas to high-speed networks.”
Broadband Stimulus Program Results
The RUS reports that 254 projects were financed by the program, totaling $2.9 billion in funding. That funding helped bring broadband service to 44 states and American Samoa. These projects impacted 260,000 rural households, 17,500 businesses and 1,900 community facilities, says the RUS. According to their math, more than 5.8 million rural residents are benefiting from this investment.
“More than half the infrastructure projects were completed under budget, resulting in the return of nearly $113 million to the U.S. Treasury,” reports RUS. Funding for these broadband projects expired at the end of the 2015 fiscal year.
This program and its results are not without controversy. Any government program that handles this amount of money receives significant scrutiny. The broadband stimulus program had its share.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office expressed concerns about this program, as did investigative journalists, one of whom labeled the program a complete failure. Congress has also scrutinized the program a few times.
The announcement of these broadband stimulus program results will surely ‘stimulate’ additional opinion and scrutiny.