Pew study shows how taxpayers fund broadband state to state
Tom Struble, technology policy manager at R Street Institute, said loans are much preferred to grants from the taxpayer perspective.
“A grant is just free money with no oversight and no strings attached,” he told the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation (TPAF). Though Pew says many broadband-related grants do have requirements of the grant recipient.
Struble noted Pew found that every state except Missouri requires some matching funds. That policy requires private providers to have some skin in the game, so to speak, but in Missouri, ISPs don’t have to show them the money, though Pew notes that Missouri prioritizes applications with matching funds.
Struble said that considering how fast technology improves, states shouldn’t put speeds into statute. He said they should instead follow the lead of Congress, which discussed the need for high-quality connections in the Telecommunications Act rather than try to nail down a particular speed.
“Those are going to be quickly outdated,” Struble said of the state standards. “The FCC has changed the standard several times in the past ten years.”
Struble said he prefers this type of funding as it’s a discount for providers rather than a handout.