President Joe Biden's "Internet for All" seeks to connect rural America, but it has raised questions about whether the internet juice is worth the financial squeeze.
In some remote areas of America like Nebraska, the $53,000 cost to connect each home via fiber optics cable is a figure greater than the assessed value of the actual property, raising question of whether the billions to connect America are well-spent, The Wall Street Journal.
In Montana, it can cost more than $300,000 per connection, according to Ann Giles of the state's Department of Administration.
"The problem is, money is not infinite," former Clinton and Obama administration senior communications policy official Blair Levin told The Wall Street Journal. "If you're spending $50,000 to connect a very remote location, you have to ask yourself, would we be better off spending that same amount of money to connect [more] families?"
Biden's "Internet for All" has committed $60 billion, and state and federal officials are left to decide whether the internet connections will come via more expensive but more reliable fiber optics or the cheaper and less reliable satellite Wi-Fi.
The Biden administration has been adamant that fiber optics investment is better long term, according to the Journal.
"Ultimately, there is a lot of good that will come from the infrastructure that we are building," Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce in charge of broadband programs, told the Journal.
There are some "Internet for All" programs that are costing the program more, according to the report:
- Commerce Department's Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program: $13,300 average nationally per location.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture's ReConnect program: $9,000.
- Treasury Department: $3,300.
- Federal Communications Commission: $1,750.
"Why wouldn't we as a tribe deserve the same internet service that you guys have in the cities?" Nebraska Winnebago Tribe historic preservation officer Sunshine Thomas-Bear told the Journal. "We are reliant on internet service just as much as anyone else."
And, how about Alaska, where fiber optics have to be put undersea for a 793-mile stretch to reach remote areas?
"These are some of the most challenging locations that there are to reach in America," USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Andy Berke told the Journal.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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