Committee Evaluates Broadband Access for Small Businesses
Today, the House Small Business Committee examined broadband deployment provided by stimulus funds and the implications for small business. The stimulus package provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant and loan programs. Applications for the first round of funding were accepted between July and August, and awards are expected to be announced in December.
Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) expressed concerns about the application process for the broadband programs. “The advantages of broadband service are clear. Yet, if an application is too complicated or costly to complete, then we must revaluate the process. Moreover, the government should not be subsidizing areas with adequate broadband coverage,” he said.
Administration officials testified that over 2,200 applications have been filed, exceeding funds allocated for the broadband programs. James Gleason, President and CEO of NewWave Communications in Missouri, testified that the application process has cost his business over $50,000.
Ranking Member Graves stated, “As the first round of broadband funding concludes, it is imperative that the government make changes to address these concern and ensure that future rounds operate in a way that improves the economy, helps small businesses and providers, and expands broadband coverage.”
According to the Administration witnesses, the second round of applications is expected around the beginning of the year.