The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Karr: 201-533-8838,,

Free Press Outlines Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success


Today, Free Press released Putting the Angels in the Details: A Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success,
a set of specific recommendations for the three federal agencies
charged with overseeing $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds.

"The clock is ticking on this historic opportunity to upgrade our digital infrastructure," said S. Derek Turner,
research director of Free Press and author of the policy brief. "But
urgency without accountability will result in waste, fraud and abuse --
shortchanging the promise of a bright broadband future. The public
interest should guide these agencies as they work to put the angels in
the details."

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, signed into law last
week by President Barack Obama, allocates $4.7 billion to the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for broadband
adoption and deployment in "unserved," "underserved" and low-income
communities; $2.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture's Rural
Utilities Service (RUS) for rural broadband; and directs the Federal
Communications Commission to develop a national broadband strategy.

To ensure that these stimulus programs are successfully implemented, Free Press recommends the following:

  • Protect the open Internet: The NTIA and FCC should
    prohibit grant recipients from selling any service that violates open
    Internet principles and should require recipients to offer
    interconnection on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis.
  • Promote speed: The NTIA should establish
    speed guidelines and benchmarks and require grant applicants to detail
    actual -- not advertised -- network speeds, with priority given to
    next-generation projects.
  • Provide clarity: The NTIA and FCC should
    adopt definitions of unserved and underserved areas that are based on
    U.S. Census Bureau geographic boundaries (either census blocks, block
    groups or tracts), and are informed by new FCC broadband data.
  • Prevent waste: The NTIA should require grant
    applicants to provide extensive documentation showing how their
    proposed project qualifies as a new investment.
  • Gather information: The FCC should immediately initiate proceedings to gather data and ideas to inform the national broadband strategy.
  • Focus resources: The NTIA should refocus the
    $350 million currently allocated for state broadband mapping toward
    projects that work to stimulate broadband demand, because the FCC is
    already collecting this data.
  • Remove roadblocks: The RUS should eliminate
    current regulations that restrict broadband upgrades, create barriers
    to new entrants and undermine competition.
  • Ensure transparency: The NTIA and RUS should
    create a single, publicly accessible online database that hosts all the
    information relevant to the broadband projects funded by the Stimulus

"The stimulus package alone will not solve all of our broadband
problems," Turner said. "But it is the crucial first step down the long
road to restoring America as a world Internet leader and making sure
all Americans can share in the benefits of broadband."

Read Putting the Angels in the Details: A Roadmap for Broadband Stimulus Success:

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