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Networking Government United States IT Technology

New US Broadband Projects Get $795 Million In Funding 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-finland dept.
snydeq writes "The Obama administration has announced nearly $795 million in grants and loans to 66 new broadband projects across the nation. The subsidies — to be doled out by the US NTIA and the US Rural Utilities Service — will bring broadband service to 685,000 businesses, 900 health-care facilities, and 2,400 schools, according to officials. The NTIA will award $404 million to 29 projects, and the grants will finance 6,000 miles of new fiber-optic lines. Most of the money will finance middle-mile broadband network projects. The RUS will award $390.9 million, with $163 million in loans and the rest in grants. Most of the RUS money is focused on last-mile broadband projects."
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New US Broadband Projects Get $795 Million In Funding

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  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:09PM (#32778806)

    How much of this will end up in the pockets of a telco exec and leave us with nothing to show for it?

    You know like every other time we have given these bastards a dime.

    • by fnj (64210) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#32778844)

      Nearly all of it. That is the way the corruptocracy works.

    • by kcbnac (854015) <kcbnac@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:18PM (#32778924)

      Is there any penalty for the telcos (such that they have to pay this money back, with penalties) if they fail to meet the goals this time around?

      Last time we gave them money we didn't get what we paid for, and they just shrugged their shoulders.

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... and I'm tempted to steal a quote from someone else.

      "It's Tuesday, get a rope!"

      • Is there any penalty for the telcos (such that they have to pay this money back, with penalties) if they fail to meet the goals this time around?

        Well you'd only know that afterwards, so it'd be ex post facto legislation, which we all know is not only unconstitutional (except where it's aimed at limeys) but violates the fifth, eighth and nineteenth laws of thermodynamics. Also, wookies.

        • by Surt (22457)

          I assume that whole thing was a joke, but you do know its only ex post facto legislation if the legislation is created after the failure, right? The government is capable of writing legislation with performance penalties.

        • by s73v3r (963317)
          Not necessarily. When we give them the money, we can say, "You must meet these requirements in such and such time frame, otherwise you will repay the money and have these penalties."
    • by boneclinkz (1284458) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:18PM (#32778928)

      You know like every other time we have given these bastards a dime.

      Seriously. I'm reminded of a pithy quote about the definition of "insanity."

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:22PM (#32778962) Journal

      I really wish people would stop spreading this myth.

      It's as bad as those who keep repeating the "Betamax lost because it wouldn't allow porn" myth (holds up copy of Playboy on betamax). If you actually read the 1996 Telecommunications Act the money was allocated for upgrades to fiber -or- upgrades of poor quality telephone lines to 56k -or- upgrades quality (which was considered damn fast compared to the 14k modems most people at the time were using). The 56k upgrade from analog-to-digital telephones is where most companies chose to spend the cash. If you think that was a mistake, well then blame the 1996 Congress who wrote a poor law.

      This act was somewhat similar to the "100,000 New Cops" that Clinton used to brag about. It sounds great until you read the actual bill, which allowed the money to be spent on cops -or- cop equivalents (computers, radios, et cetera). Most police departments used the money to buy new gadgets not actual cops.

      AS FOR NOW: I was wondering where the money would come from: "In the Recovery Act, Congress allocated $7.2 billion to the NTIA and RUS for broadband grants and loans." In other words this new project was passed over a year ago but its only getting spent during the next few months. I wonder why they waited so long to act?

      • Because Congress set it up that way. Congress wanted people to forget that they passed that massive spending bill before the elections this fall and they wanted the economic stimulus that they expected from it to kick in just before the elections. Of course neither of those things worked out for them.
      • You can argue in 1996, fixing line quality was the right thing to do. Broadband technologies were still in their infancy, vanishingly few people had them. Most people were on dialup. What would show them the biggest benefit? Fixing the phone lines. That would show an immediate increase, and using a proven technology.

        While it is nice to talk up future technologies, you have no idea how that'll pan out.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          In 1996 running voice over fiber was not impossible. Expensive yes, impossible no. It sure looks like it would have given the most benefit, if that is all you optimize for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trip Ericson (864747)

        Wow, that's good to know. I guess I'm only imagining that my line speed is still at 26.4k or my friend on a larger nearby road still gets 14.4k. Wonderful upgrade there, Verizon! Glad to know you didn't pocket it and screw me over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rivalz (1431453)

      Man don't be so cynical.
      See Article http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/Broadband_Award_Roster.pdf [whitehouse.gov]

      The first grant is just for 5.2 million for 60 people and 20 businesses.
      At 50$ per person per month and 150$ per business a month that is just a around $72,000 Per year of revenue for the 5.2 million dollars expense.

      Who says Democrats don't know how to properly allocate funds. How I missed the boat on this free money has me needing some serious therapy. Do we have free health care for that yet? :)

      Copp

    • by lousyd (459028)
      It's already stolen money. I'd kind of like to have back the $80 they took last paycheck.
      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:07PM (#32779676)

        Taxes are how you pay for civilization. It is not stolen money. Grow up or move to Somalia.

        • If that were all it was then the money wouldn't have to be taken by force. No, taxes are how other people pay for their civilization with your money. Involuntarily depriving someone else of their rightfully-owned property is theft by any sane definition, regardless of the intended use.

          • If you're living in the country, it's your civilization too, you dolt. You are not an island, and someone else paid for the society that you now enjoy. Pay your share, like everyone else, and stfu. Either that or move to a country with no taxes, and tell us how much you enjoy it.
      • Fine, then never use a public road, sidewalk, post office, police, go to a park, or use an internet line funded by tax money, and we'll call it even.
    • by Ash Vince (602485) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:48PM (#32780934) Journal

      How much of this will end up in the pockets of a telco exec and leave us with nothing to show for it?

      In the US? I have no idea, but in the UK Blair managed to get this to work with the deal he did with BT when he came to power in the 90's. He vastly inflated BT's share price by handing them a virtual monopoly for most of his reign but he did also vastly improve he quality of broadband connection available to people at a lower price who were not in the capital.

      Some vary rural areas still suffered but people like myself who lived in run own inner cities where ADSL would never normally have been offered cheaply found we were being offered a service that was comparable to that which was on offer in the capital. This was no mean feat being that at the time I lived in one of the most run down areas of Britain (Moss Side).

      I am not saying that his will turn out the same but these projects can if they are planned correctly and if the correct level of control is put in place to stop the sort of profiteering you describe. In the UK situation this was done by guaranteeing BT a virtual monopoly at the end of the subsidised period. They willingly were forced into selling space on their backbone to many other companies for a reasonable rate in return for being treated preferentially in the bidding for several nationwide contracts.

      This resulted in many small businesses setting up as BT resellers of ADSL products and being able to compete with BT on price even though they did not have a national backbone like BT. Now they are able to do the same by renting space in BT exchanges for servers and buying routing bandwidth from BT.

      Maybe this is only possible when big business and governments can actually work together as they realise it is in both their long term interests. Blair wanted every child to grow up with internet access and BT realised this would give them a shit load of extra customers down the line. Blair new it would help the UK service economy he was trying to build if we were all PC and internet savvy before we entered the job market, even if we were destined for no IT roles that still involved a small element of PC use like writing an email or using excel to figure out if we have any money left to spend.

  • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#32778840)

    So... $800 million. Alright. How does that compare to profits major telecoms acquired since they got their first boost in the 90s?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gewalker (57809)

      On the plus side, it is expected to "create or save" about 5000 jobs (a mere $160.000) -- Hard to guess how many "bogus" saved jobs are in this accounting.

      On the minus side, it is guaranteed to take (theft when not done by the government) the entire income of about 16,000 workers in order to support pay for this.

      When are we going to break this cycle of stupidity. And yes, this is probably better than a lot of government spending.


      There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad ec

      • by Surt (22457)

        The US is currently on schedule to default on its debt for the first time in 2026. I would be pretty confident about the cycle of stupidity ending at that point, because we'll be in Greece's situation, and their government has successfully been forced to stop their cycle of stupidity.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The US is currently on schedule to default on its debt for the first time in 2026. I would be pretty confident about the cycle of stupidity ending at that point, because we'll be in Greece's situation,

          Surrounded by dead ocean and living on a piece of land with no remaining natural resources to speak of? I guess I could see the first part.

          and their government has successfully been forced to stop their cycle of stupidity.

          Who do you envision forcing the USA to stop? We're not members of the EU.

          • by Surt (22457)

            The thing that is stopping Greece is not the EU, but rather how much worse things would be if the EU didn't bail them out, and the knowledge that without stopping themselves, they wouldn't get bailed out. Rather than ask who will stop us, ask who will bail us out.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Rather than ask who will stop us, ask who will bail us out.

              Greece is inherently fucked if their economy tanks because they have no natural resources worth mentioning. Their country is propped on top of a blob of rock. Once it was an absolutely critical hub of shipping for the civilized world, now it is just another country with a fascinating history that needs to import a lot of food. And coincidentally yet relevantly, we may have a short history here in the USA, but we export a lot of food and are capable of exporting (or mining or otherwise producing for ourselve

      • by jjoelc (1589361)

        "creating jobs" is easy... Creating productive, long term jobs is the trick.

        Hire one guy to make bricks all day. You created a job!

        Hire another guy to smash bricks all day. You've created TWO jobs!

        Hire another guy to sort the rubble, and prepare it to be recycled by the first guy to make more bricks. You've created THREE GREEN jobs!

        Take away the federal money, and all three of them are out of work again, with absolutely nothing to show for all the money spent.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Perhaps fixing our roads, bridges and other infrastructure might actually be worth something?

  • STOP SPENDING (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149)

    Great, hundreds of millions more out the door when we are already deeply in the hole as a notion. It's a broadband stimulus package!

    You want to help out broadband in the U.S.? Make it illegal for communities to have only single providers of service. That would open the doors to competition and reduce prices for everyone, not just the handful of districts this federal boondoggle will target.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      I'm not a fan of monopolies or anything, however if not for monopolies on "public utilities", then you'd have to have multiple runs of cable (impractical and physically destructive), or companies would have to allow other companies to use their infrastructure but then charge them for it. Seems to me, this would likely limit the incentive for expand infrastructure (the leasing fee for the second provider likely wouldn't make up the difference lost in access charges to the end user, otherwise the second comp

      • by Surt (22457)

        There isn't really a big problem with multiple physical runs. Some communities do it, and when it happens, it seems to work out really, really well for them.

      • Worked for me (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:47PM (#32779358)

        I'm not a fan of monopolies or anything, however if not for monopolies on "public utilities", then you'd have to have multiple runs of cable (impractical and physically destructive)

        Actually it's not that destructive when you are talking last-mile solutions.

        As an example, I used to live in a small community that had Comcast cable. We had a small provider come in, Wide Open West, that had fiber to the curb - the last few hundred feet was coax, delivered side by side with the traditional cable and then at my house one cable attachment replaced the other.

        The benefit? I got a 100Mb/s internet feed - that was up and down, about 10x faster than Comcast internet and a 20-30x faster uplink. And it was ten years ago...

        The practical reality is that you're not going to have a handful of providers running cable or wires to your house, because if there's more than three people competing for service it doesn't make as much economic sense to have a fourth come in since there's already competition lowering prices. And if any of them fold other companies can come along and make use of the infrastructure. It doesn't mean your neighborhood will look like pre-switch NYC with cables clouding the sky...

        If you're wondering what happened to WOW, they got bought out and that was the end of THOSE shenanigans, offering cheap fast internet was simply not allowable.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        >>>you'd have to have multiple runs of cable (impractical and physically destructive)

        Yeah because a 50-fiber bundle (1 fiber per cable/internet company) really takes up a lot of room. A whole 2 cm in diameter. /end sarcasm. But seriously: The logical course would to have this 50-fiber bundle run under every city street and owned by the government. Then lease 1 fiber to Comcast, 1 to Cox, 1 to Time-Warner, 1 to GoogleTV, and so on. Then, at last, we would have a pro-choice solution for customer

  • I grew up on a farm in a rural community. Up until last year, my family only had access to 56k (at best) dial up service, now they have a 1MB cable service. I really would love to see all citizens in the US be able to access high speed internet but I understand how high those costs are. Personally, I'd like to see more work done in rural areas utilizing wireless broadband. Similar to the speed of the rise of cell phones in modern society. High speed internet isn't the luxury it once was. In many ways,
  • From TFA:

    The top goal for the grants and loans "is to put Americans back to work immediately, managing projects, digging the trenches, laying fiber-optic cable, and stringing up those utility poles," said Gary Locke, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the parent agency of the NTIA.

    I thought that the New Deal actually worsened the pre-WWII economic situation in retrospect. Not sure why this seems like a good idea now.

    • Re:New Deal 2K10 (Score:5, Informative)

      by timeOday (582209) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#32779224)
      Yeah right. The tens of thousands of people who would otherwise have starved beg to differ. And we're still living off much of the infrastructure they built.
      • by jjoelc (1589361)

        Like social security? Yeah.. we all know THAT's going well!

        Not to discount a lot of the work they did.. I live within spitting distance of Hoover Dam. There are a lot of lasting works started in, if not completed during the new deal.

        It didn't do too terribly much in the short term. And no matter what either side argues, nobody knows whether it would have eventually played out as fixing the economy or tanking it, because WWII came along and put all of us to work. (off-topic, but that fact is partly responsib

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          hmm?
          It is going quite well, in fact even by the time I retire it is expected to pay out 75% of the amount I should get if we do nothing. If we up the retirement age like we should do, it will be paying out 100%.

        • by timeOday (582209)

          Like social security? Yeah.. we all know THAT's going well!

          It is working about as well as anything could. Poverty among the elderly has plummeted compared to before it was instituted.

          People are living longer and having fewer children. No amount of accounting can change that ultimate fact. Not even a high savings rate among workers for later retirement could magically overcome a lower producer/consumer ratio; that would just result in wage inflation as elderly people with big bank accounts compete for

      • Bah! Who needs infrastructure? See this balance sheet I have here? See this 'infrastructure maintenance' item? That's a cost, not an income item - no point in it. Remove it, next quarter's profit will go up and I'll get a much bigger bonus.
      • I thought that the New Deal actually worsened the pre-WWII economic situation in retrospect. Not sure why this seems like a good idea now.

        Yeah right. The tens of thousands of people who would otherwise have starved beg to differ.

        Grandparent poster has it right.

        "Government stimulus" programs destroy more jobs than they create. So they fed a million people - by starving 3.5 million others? Thanks a lot.

        The very programs claimed to combat it turned the latest of a series of short economic downturns into "Th

  • I hope... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:24PM (#32779000)

    I hope that this will affect us somehow.

    I work in Silicon Valley, right by two major freeways (880 and 101... so not far out there) and just a couple miles from Cisco, and the best normal service we have is crappy AT&T DSL at 2Mbps down and 0.4 Mbps up.

    Meanwhile, 5 minutes away, at my home, I have a 30Mb down 10Mb up connection.

    I would like to be able to VPN into work without it crawling along, or without us having to shell out something expensive for business class service. We don't need guaranteed uptime or anything fancy, just a faster connection for day to day stuff.

    There have been times where I've driven home to download a 3GB file because it was faster than waiting for it to happen at work.

    I will be thrilled when >10Mbit broadband becomes the standard.

    -Taylor

    • >>>the best normal service we have is crappy AT&T DSL at 2Mbps down and 0.4 Mbps up.

      They don't have faster speeds? My Verizon DSL offers 12 Mbit/s, and it's cheaper than Comcast's equivalent service.

      • I've checked before for Comcast Cable and AT&T's Fiber service. Neither are available here.

        Double-checking on DSL options; for residential they offer "Up to 6Mbps down, 768Kbps up" for $24.99, but for business the best they offer is:

        "For bandwidth-intensive applications
        Downstream Speed: Up to 3.0 Mbps
        Upstream Speed: Up to 512 Kbps"

        And it's $40 a month. That must be what we have, and it's a f'ing joke.

        I've lived in 3 places in the area in the last couple years and I had fiber or cable at 10Mbps, 24Mbps,

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          So get a bunch of those plans and a decent router.

          Or pay for business service.

  • by copponex (13876)

    And if the chorus of idiots will realize that this is the best and quickest way of creating jobs, maybe the American economy would have a chance if they could just shut up for 10 minutes.

    Our WWII spending brought us to 120% of GDP for our national debt, but it only worked out in the end because it gave all sectors of the economy a living wage, practically creating the middle class. (That and Patriotism back in those days included paying taxes and buying War Bonds.) Double points if those jobs improve Americ

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      You think spending 5.2 million to get 60 Alaskans Internet access is worth it?

      It might be cheaper to relocate them.

      • by copponex (13876)

        Well, they cost far less than 60 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. And they'll have internet access for the rest of their lives instead of just a year.

        Assuming you're not just full of shit, which you probably are.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Afghanistan is a pointless war I agree, lets save some money by ending that too, Iraq as well. I still fail to see what that has to do with this current waste of money.

          For $86k per head we might just be able to give them totally free satellite Internet for life.

          • by copponex (13876)

            The point being you have to focus on beating your crack addiction before you think about paying down your credit cards.

      • It might be. That works out at $100,000 per person. If the infrastructure improves their productivity and they pay an average of $5,000 more income tax over the next twenty years as a result, it breaks even (ignoring inflation). If the population grows, if some of the businesses in the area hire more people, and so on, then it's possible that it will produce more than $5.2 million in tax revenue in total.
        • by Surt (22457)

          You're not adjusting for inflation and compounding over 20 years, nor the investment deduction (the government can make at least 5% apr over 20 years making home loans if nothing else).

          So now they need to pay more like $40,000 over twenty years to make this pay off, so they need an increase of at least $8000/year in earnings.

          Doubtful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      >>>Our WWII spending brought us to 120% of GDP for our national debt,

      Yes and when WW2 was over (1945), the Depression snapped right back and people were jobless again. The stock market and GDP did not return to 1928 levels until the early 1950s. So basically all the spending for WW2 cured nothing.

      Also there's nothing productive about a war, which is basically equivalent to building a bunch of products and then blowing them up. A war is *destructive* not productive. It wastes resources and money

      • Cue the facts! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by copponex (13876) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:50PM (#32780286) Homepage

        Honestly, assertions are my favorite. It makes arguments so easy to win.

        Yes and when WW2 was over (1945), the Depression snapped right back and people were jobless again.

        No, unemployment rates stayed low and and GDP did not drop. So the real question is, are you purposefully ignorant or just being a troll?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Us_unemployment_rates_1950_2005.png [wikipedia.org]
        http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=230 [data360.org]

        Also there's nothing productive about a war, which is basically equivalent to building a bunch of products and then blowing them up. A war is *destructive* not productive. It wastes resources and money and labor hours. It's the Glazier Paradox - smashing windows just to make work. It would be wiser not to smash the windows in the first place.

        War is enormously profitable for the winning country, especially when you get to control precious resources as a result. The Glazier Paradox does not apply - we were smashing millions of dollars of weapons into things we didn't repair with our own money. WWII involved a lot of nation building, and our workers provided the manufacturing for most of the planet since Europe and Japan were in pieces. (Not that I agree this is the way to come out of the recession, but it is important to remember history amid your vague rhetoric involving paradoxes.)

        Similarly throwing a bunch of money at fiber installs, without considering whether the market will use them, or whether they will just sit unused (dark fiber) is about the same as building a bunch of bridges that lead to nowhere (don't connect to roads). That too is a waste.

        Mass transit and communications infrastructure are investments in the future. Even if it there's a bit of waste here and there, it beats giving it to the financial industry, who do nothing useful for the economy at large.

        This is the purpose of government. Keep the economic machine running by ignoring the rules when they stop working. Keep income equality high so there's meritocracy instead of aristocracy. Enforce policies to make sure that the economy is well educated and capable of performing complex functions to yield good results for investment.

        The relative power of federal, state, and local governments is something that can be argued, but the larger point still remains.

        • by ptbarnett (159784)

          Honestly, assertions are my favorite. It makes arguments so easy to win.

          Especially when you provide citations that avoid the period that the grandparent specifically identified. Did you hope no one would notice?

          No, unemployment rates stayed low and and GDP did not drop.

          Your unemployment rate graph starts at 1950, several years after the war ended. So, it doesn't show the increase in unemployment rate immediately afterward.

          Try this one instead:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Unemployment_1890-2009.gif [wikipedia.org]

          It was indeed still low immediately after WW2, especially by today's standards. But, it did increase -- it doubled from

          • by copponex (13876)

            Especially when you provide citations that avoid the period that the grandparent specifically identified. Did you hope no one would notice?

            No, I didn't notice myself. I knew the employment rate stayed around or below 6% after WWII ended, which is supported by the link you provided. Keep in mind the current employment rate is much higher than the quoted 10%. They do not count the underemployed or the people who have given up looking for work anymore.

            However, it does directly refuse your contention that GDP didn't drop: from 1945 to 1946, GDP dropped from 2.0 trillion to 1.7 trillion (in 2005 dollars). It didn't recover to to 2.0 trillion (in 2005 dollars) until 1950.

            This is a fair point, but I think pretty meaningless in context.

            Are you trying to state that WWII did not reduce employment or increase GDP, or that the Depression returned after the war was ended?

    • P.S.

      >>>If the continued destruction of the middle class isn't ended

      It's the growing national debt (from 10.5 trillion to 13 trillion just since Bush left office) that will destroy the middle class. That's the equivalent of $130,000 owed by each American home. This nonstop spending is causing us to self-destruct (like Greece).

      • by cowscows (103644)

        We've got nowhere near the Greece level of debt problems, at least not in the near term. None of the actions of the global market show any signs of worry bout US debt, they're more than happy to lend the government money. National debt reduction right now should not be a priority for the US right now, the federal government's debt is not the cause of our current economic problems.

        But if you really want to complain about the debt, a huge chunk of our current deficit has to do with a foolish administration st

  • Fixed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chucklebutte (921447)

    Comcast, Cox, Verizon, AT&T Execs Get $795 Million In Funding.

    Fixed your headline free of charge.

  • So..We give 80% of this directly to Verizon, ATT and co. Wouldnt it be a better idea to maybe, oh..I don't know, Secure what we already have and make friking Email usable and actually go after the phishers and frauds out there? I guess a better question is why I don't see eye to eye with politicians? I mean- I've got money, they have pockets... We should get along great.

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