Senators Bundle Bad Broadband Proposals into Legislation
“Congress should double-down on the market-driven approach that has increased speeds, decreased prices and allowed the country to remain online during the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than trying to control who can connect to the internet,” said Jeffrey Westling, Resident Fellow of Technology & Innovation Policy. “Ensuring Americans have access to high-quality broadband connectivity must remain a key priority for Congress, but this bill takes the wrong approach by allowing the government to pick winners and losers, including the government itself.”
The legislation requires providers to meet arbitrary speed thresholds of 100 megabytes per second (Mbps) down and 100 Mbps up—with no cap on usage—that bear no resemblance to what Americans actually need. The bill also requires that providers offer a low-income option and dictate what they can charge for service. Worse, instead of narrowly focusing on those truly difficult-to-reach locations that desperately need basic connectivity, the bill would allow 50 percent of the funding to go to areas that already have reliable connections but qualify as “underserved” according to the drafters.
The R Street Institute understands the importance of connecting all Americans, and we have long advocated for policies that would incentivize deployment and efficiently support low-income consumers who cannot afford connection. This bill moves away from this sound, market-oriented principled approach to broadband deployment and would waste valuable taxpayer dollars.