Reaction to Biden’s broadband plan: a mix of praise, caution and criticism: high-speed breakfast

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April 1, 2021 – In response to the President Joe biden’s new “American Jobs Plan” infrastructure, including $ 100 billion for broadband projects, many players in the broadband industry applaud the administration’s efforts to bridge the digital divide, but with some caution and criticism as well.

“We share the administration’s conviction that connectivity for all is a top national priority”, said the CEO of USTelecom Jonathan spalter in a report. “Remember this: Our shared communications networks are backed by $ 1.8 trillion in private investments that have helped the country navigate the depths of the pandemic with reliable and resilient connectivity.

The plan, announced Wednesday, includes a commitment to provide broadband access to all Americans by 2030.

“Today’s broadband market is also ultra-competitive, defined by increasing speeds, falling prices, new entrants and next-generation technologies. Congress should now prioritize affordable and accessibility solutions that are fast and smart and push continued private investment to get the job done. We must not lose this fundamental context as we move towards our collective goals of connectivity. “

John windhausen, executive director of the Schools, Health and Library Advocacy Organization (SHLB) Coalition, said in a statement that Biden’s plan “recognizes the importance of investing to connect 100% of Americans to broadband . It wisely calls for future-proof capacity, which will encompass the high bandwidth demands of anchor institutions. “

Meanwhile, Christina mason of the Association of Wireless Internet Service Providers said the organization was “greatly encouraged by President Biden’s efforts to create new jobs and rebuild much of the basic infrastructure of the United States.” The president’s attention is right on target. “

Some criticisms, including the impact on competition

Response from the NCTA (Internet and Television Association) to the new Biden plan was more critical. “The White House has chosen to embark on broadband infrastructure, but it risks taking a bad turn by abandoning decades of successful politics by suggesting that government is better positioned than private sector technologists to build and operate the Internet Said Michael CEO. Powell said.

“The government has a vital role to play in bringing networks to areas that lack services and helping low-income families afford them. However, these focused and shared goals are not served by mistakenly suggesting that the entire network is in trouble and the solution is to either prioritize government-owned networks or micromanage private networks, including l ‘baseless claim that government should manage prices,’ Powell mentioned.

American Enterprise Institute’s Daniel Lyons also expressed caution on the proposal. “The plan accurately defines the multifaceted problem of America’s digital divide. But the devil is in the details – and the few details released so far cast significant doubt on how Biden hopes to achieve that goal, ”he said.

Lyons discusses specific aspects of the plan, including future-proof networks, which he says should not favor fiber over other broadband technologies. “Choosing winners and losers among network models undermines intermodal competition which advances all technologies and increases the chances of finding the most efficient way to serve individual pockets of unserved customers,” he said. .

He also stressed the importance of unserved areas over underserved areas. “Subsidizing a new business to compete directly with an unsubsidized competitor raises different issues than providing a service where it does not currently exist, and it can effectively punish businesses that have invested private dollars to economically connect populations. difficult to serve, ”Lyons said.

He was also skeptical of any rate regulation. “As I recently discussed in an article on Texas Blackout, political pressure to keep prices low can cause companies to forgo investing in resilience and innovation, ”Lyons said.

Biden compared his broadband initiative to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which provided loans to businesses to obtain electricity in any areas not served at the time. But Lyons said the comparison to modern broadband fails because it’s loans, not grants, that provide electricity to Americans. “This key control is lacking in current broadband development efforts, which may explain why America faces a broadband deficit despite billions of dollars spent on development grants,” he said. .

Applause and disappointment from Congress

“There is no better way to rebuild our economy for the future than to modernize our gravely aging infrastructure, and President Biden’s US employment plan is exactly what our country needs right now.” said the representative. Frank Pallone, DN.J., chairman of the Energy and Trade committee. “The president’s plan aligns with the LIFT America Act, which I introduced earlier this month with all Democrats on the Energy and Trade Committee. Our legislation invests in clean and efficient energy, safe drinking water, expanded broadband access, cleaning up brownfields and improving our country’s healthcare infrastructure, ”he said. .

But Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Rank Republican member of the Energy and Trade Committee, contested the plan. “On broadband, President Biden is on the verge of wasting billions of dollars and hurting private investment in our networks without bridging the digital divide,” she said. Rather than promoting competition, President Biden’s plan will set rural America back even further and impose higher costs on families. Instead, we should boost our public and private investments and encourage competition by streamlining permitting processes, ”she said.

representative Eddie bernice johnson, D-Texas, Chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, praises the Biden plan impact on transportation, energy, cleaner environment, climate change, American manufacturing, research and development, STEM workforce and equitable engagement for all communities. “The US Jobs Plan is a great starting point to achieve this goal,” she said.

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