Last updated: March 10, 2009 - 9:43am
Lost amidst all this talk about broadband stimulus dollars is the fact that there are a number of rural broadband projects that are ready to move today. But now that the government trough's been slopped full of money, every community's trying to figure out how they can get in on the act, even those that may have not been thinking about broadband at all and likely still need many months to pull together the pieces necessary to get to the point where they can start deploying. In order to get a grant, the ECFiber project's going to have to cut through all this noise of other communities that may be more politically well-connected as well as the various industry competitors trying to claim that the money should go to support their broadband technologies of choice despite the fact that everyone agrees fiber is the best. With all these competing interests potentially submitting applications that must be reviewed, vetted, and compared against each other, I can't help but worry that while these dollars are supposed to be about stimulating the economy and spurring deployment that instead we're going to get caught up in policy discussions that will slow down action from being taken, especially debates like what "underserved" actually means. Because the thing to remember is that there are viable, shovel-ready projects that could be deploying to rural America today if they had the capital. So the sooner we can get them support, the sooner we can be stimulating the economy and getting communities connected to the digital economy.
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