Sunday, September 26, 2021

Internet funding rule may favor rural areas over cities

Cities and urban counties across America are raising concerns that a recent rule from President Joe Biden’s administration could prevent them from tapping into $350 billion in coronavirus relief aid to expand high-speed Internet connections.

Biden aims to bring fast, affordable internet to every American home. The massive US rescue plan took a step in that direction by including broadband infrastructure among the primary uses of pandemic aid flowing to each city, county and state.

But an interim rule published by the US Treasury Department has limited broadband eligibility. It focuses on areas that lack reliable broadband, connecting devices to the Internet via cable or data line at download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. .

This limit ensures funding for remote, rural areas with slow or no Internet service, and it matches the definition of broadband set by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. But cities argue that the entitlement mark overlooks the realities of today’s internet needs.

Although broadband is already available in most cities, the speeds may not be fast enough to handle the many people trying to work, study and stream entertainment in a single home – due to the coronavirus pandemic. A typical scenario during The price can also be higher than for low-income residents.

“They’re basically prioritizing those rural areas over underserved urban areas where there’s a higher population,” said Detta Kissel, a retired Treasury Department attorney who helped write the agency’s rules and is now in the Washington, DC, suburb of Better Internet Advocates for the service said Arlington, Virginia.

Several cities, including Washington, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and San Antonio, have submitted public comments to the Treasury Department urging it to loosen the eligibility standard for spending pandemic relief money on broadband. Some want the Treasury to define low-service areas as download and upload speeds of less than 100 Mbps.

This will increase the number of eligible locations nationwide from about 11 million to 82 million homes and businesses, according to a study conducted for the Communications Association of America, which represents small and medium-sized Internet providers.

Cities argue that the Treasury should use the 100/100 Mbps eligibility limit as the same speed projects should achieve if they receive funding. A separate infrastructure bill working its way through Congress is more flexible, allowing some of its $65 billion in broadband funding to go to “underserved” areas, with download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. is lacking.

If the Treasury goes ahead with its rule, as originally written, sparsely populated areas currently lack broadband, some urban areas could see a jump in their Internet speeds. This doesn’t sit well with some mayors.

Internet funding rule may favor rural areas over cities
Nation World News Desk
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