The U.S. stimulus package allocated up to $350 million to map out broadband Internet access in the United States for the purpose of guiding broadband expansion policies, although critics have characterized that sum as excessive.
The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration recently indicated that it would initially spend more than $100 million and then reevaluate the program to ensure that the map funding is used "in a fiscally prudent manner." Although the ultimate cost of the map should be less than the congressionally-set $350 million cap, the total still appears as if it will run far higher than estimates based on the costs of smaller mapping initiatives in individual U.S. states. For example, North Carolina's broadband authority e-NC spends no more than $275,000 annually to maintain a map of statewide broadband availability, says e-NC executive director Jane Smith Patterson.
DSL Prime editor Dave Burstein believes a country-wide broadband map could be furnished for less than $30 million. However, it is unlikely that the map would be completed before the publication of a national broadband plan being developed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in February.
Proponents of expanding broadband argue that such expansion is vital to the U.S.'s economic growth, while also contending that high-speed Internet may never be made available to certain rural areas because service providers see no incentive in extending their lines there. The identification of those areas will be a major push of the mapping effort.
From The Associated Press
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