FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr Slams Ineffective Internet Policy

The 42.5 billion federal modernization program to deliver high-speed internet access to rural Americans has not connected a single home or business in the nearly three years since President Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. What’s more, not one single project related to the program is expected to begin until sometime in 2025.

Congress and internet providers blame the lack of progress on the Biden administration’s burdensome requirements for the distribution of funding, including its green mandates, its insistence on using union workers, and requiring companies to prioritize employing “justice-impacted” workers (AKA those with criminal records) to install the equipment, to be eligible for the program.

Given the slow pace of approving funding allocation, the projected start dates for the modernization program were pushed back from 2025 to 2026.

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said the promised high-speed access to rural areas is unlikely to be completed until 2030, nine years after the president signed it into law.

Many rural areas still rely on slower internet access that is carried through copper lines incapable of transmitting large amounts of data. Meanwhile, some areas have no internet access at all.

Carr said in the past three years not “a single shovel’s worth of dirt” has been “turned” to get these areas connected to broadband service.

As of June, only nine states and Washington, DC have been approved for the program that was part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021.

Carr accused the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of taking too long and said the requirements imposed by the administration have complicated the approval process and could derail many broadband projects.

He said the NTIA imposed “too many steps in the process” that, in addition to prioritizing “progressive ideas,” have also delayed the completion timeline.

In April 2023, 11 Republican senators sent a letter to NTIA head Alan Davidson demanding that the Commerce Department remove the “Liberal Wish-List Items” from the requirements to gain funding for the program, arguing that the requirements were added after the program was signed into law.