High-Speed Internet Program Report Released

Hello Folks! We’ve got quite the story for you today!

Picture this: a grand plan to bring high-speed internet to the most remote corners of America, a plan so ambitious it promised to transform rural communities.

This is the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, a $42.5 billion effort rolled out by President Biden three years ago. Sounds like a game-changer, right? Well, hold on to your hats because not a single home has been connected yet. Yep, you heard that right—not one.

Now, let’s dive into why this massive project has yet to see the light of day. The Washington Times paints a pretty clear picture of a classic tale of government action bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape. The residents of rural America, who desperately need high-speed internet, are still waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. The rollout has been so slow that no project is expected to break ground until next year, and officials say we might not see any real progress until 2025 or 2026.

So, what’s the holdup? Lawmakers and internet companies point to a laundry list of burdensome requirements. To tap into these funds, they must navigate a maze of climate change mandates, union worker preferences, and hiring priorities for “justice-impacted” individuals, which means people with criminal records. All these conditions have turned the BEAD program into a slow-moving train with no clear end in sight.

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr has weighed in, saying the goal of providing high-speed internet to underserved areas won’t be fully realized until 2030. That’s nine years after the program was signed into law. Imagine that—almost a decade of waiting for something as essential as reliable internet.

In many rural areas, folks are still using painfully slow internet that runs over outdated copper lines, making it nearly impossible to transmit large amounts of data. Some places have no internet at all. It’s a digital divide that leaves these communities behind, unable to access the same opportunities as their urban counterparts.

And yet, there are voices in Washington claiming everything is just fine. Alan Davidson, head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told Congress that the pace of BEAD is on track. He even said the program would remain in the planning and development phase for at least two more years, with nothing shovel-ready until 2025-2026. Senators, understandably, are scratching their heads over this.

They’re particularly puzzled by provisions in the BEAD program that seem out of place. For instance, giving preference to union workers in rural areas where such workers are hard to find or prioritizing the employment of individuals with past criminal records for building broadband networks. There’s also a requirement for eligible entities to account for climate risks far into the future, which adds another layer of complexity.

Critics argue these provisions are hindering progress. The National Taxpayers Union even sent a letter to Senator John Thune, warning that government-owned networks, which the BEAD program favors, often squander public dollars and leave taxpayers footing the bill.

So here we are, three years into a program that promised to revolutionize rural internet access, with nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, other parts of Biden’s America are grappling with their own crises—planes nearly colliding, trains derailing, a lack of EV charging stations, and now, still no high-speed internet for the rural poor. It makes you wonder, does anything in Biden’s America work as intended? Stay tuned, folks. This story is far from over.