Accountability is key to successful rural broadband expansion
Over the last 30 years, the FCC has spent $100 billion to improve rural telecommunications, yet much of Appalachia remains without high speed internet, cell signal, or even reliable landline telephone service. How did this happen, and where did all that money go? We may never know, because past funding programs had little oversight and no public reporting requirements.
The Biden administration has promised to invest billions to solve the rural broadband problem. For those investments to succeed, funding recipients and the agencies who manage those funds must be held accountable.
It all boils down to a few common sense principles:
- Require public reporting: Providers who receive government funds must publish quarterly project updates with detailed lists of locations passed or served.
- Verify before paying: Funds should only be released to providers after a public partner verifies that the work was completed.
- Reverse the burden of proof: If a provider says a location already has broadband, they should be required to prove that claim with lists of subscriber locations and comprehensive speed test data.
- Penalize poor performance: Levy substantial fines against providers who overstate coverage or speed.