Biden's High-Speed Internet Fund Fails To Power Up, Says FCC Commissioner

 June 15, 2024

An FCC Commissioner has openly criticized the Biden Administration for its handling of a significant $42.45 billion fund intended for high-speed internet deployment.

Breitbart reported that the funds, derived from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, were earmarked to bridge the connectivity gap across America. However, according to Commissioner Brendan Carr, no Americans have benefitted yet, and construction is stalled until at least 2025.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr accuses the Biden administration of misusing a massive broadband deployment fund, failing to connect a single person so far.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, established through the Infrastructure Bill, aimed to significantly improve internet access. Yet, despite these noble intentions, the Federal Communications Commission's Carr states that the implementation faces serious delays and misdirection.

Connectivity Fund Becomes A Political Battleground

Further complicating the efforts, Carr criticized the administration for using the fund to promote a partisan agenda.

He argued that additional stipulations tied to climate change, tech biases, DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) standards, and a preference for government-operated networks have hijacked the program’s original goal. This has drawn concern over the dilution of its core mission to provide widespread internet access.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently struggled to explain why only a handful of electric vehicle stations, also funded under the IIJA, had been built. This incident illustrates broader issues of slow progress and questionable prioritization within the administration's infrastructure initiatives.

Carr has vocalized fears that the current approach might disproportionately disadvantage rural communities, those who arguably need improved connectivity the most. He emphasized that the existing digital divide demands straightforward solutions, not embroiled in broader political debates or agendas.

In one of his statements, Carr remarked, "In 2021, the Biden Administration secured $42.45 billion from Congress to deploy high-speed Internet to millions of Americans. Years later, it has not connected even one person with those funds."

He highlighted the gap between the project's objectives and its current trajectory, which indicates no concrete action will happen until at least 2025. This raises significant concerns about the urgency and effectiveness of the project.

Regarding the politicization of the BEAD program, Carr stated, "The Biden Administration is barreling towards broadband blunders. Congress has appropriated enough money to end the digital divide, but the Administration is squandering the moment by putting partisan political goals above smart policy."

He added, "Through rate regulation, through union, technology, and DEI preferences, and a thumb on the scale for government-run networks.

All of this threatens to leave rural communities behind." These comments underline the perceived deviation from what many hoped would be a transformative infrastructure investment at the program's outset.

The BEAD Program's Rocky Road Ahead

The criticism comes amid broader concerns about the effectiveness of federal spending on infrastructure, particularly in how it is directed and implemented.

As the BEAD program continues to stall, with substantial funds unutilized and no construction underway, stakeholders are increasingly vocal about the need for a reevaluation of both strategy and leadership.

Connie Jacobs, a telecommunications expert, suggests, "The concerns raised by Carr are significant and indicate potential oversights and mismanagement that need to be addressed swiftly to prevent further delay."

Meanwhile, as the federal government navigates these criticisms, the urgent need for high-speed internet across underserved areas remains pressing. Without decisive action, the gap may widen, leaving millions without essential services and further exacerbating the digital divide.

In conclusion, significant funds aimed to boost high-speed internet connectivity remain untapped while accusations of political interference cloud the program’s future. As delays continue, the goal of bridging America's digital divide seems increasingly out of reach, with rural communities facing possible neglect. Stakeholders call for immediate action to ensure the initial objectives of the BEAD program are met, avoiding potential failures in federal infrastructure management.

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