Government Spending on Fast Internet Service

The Federal government has a $42+ billion program for expanding broadband Internet access to Americans who don’t currently have that access. In a rare application of sense, the law has an entry criterion:

The broadband plan, part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden last November, stipulates that money to improve service can’t be doled out until the Federal Communications Commission completes new maps showing where homes and businesses lack fast service.

Like I said, an application of sense. But there’s one more little fillip that’s necessary. That’s the need to define “fast Service.” Absent that, the maps won’t necessarily be useful.

Such a definition is needed because Internet speed is constantly increasing as the underlying technology is constantly improving. We’ve gone, after all, in just three decades, from 300baud dial-up access to the Internet at the start to today’s 100s of gigabit/sec access, and that’s getting faster as 5G access spreads and subsequent xG accesses are developed.

What’s the speed for which the FCC’s maps are required to indicate the need on the part of those of us who don’t currently have it? Will that be a static requirement, or will the speed be required to increase along with the general population’s access speed?

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