Several groups from across the country, including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, have signed a coalition letter making key policy recommendations for broadband spending.

The letter calls on policymakers to ensure that they spend broadband funding in an accountable and responsible way. In the wake of an almost unprecedented amount of federal spending, the coalition calls on policymakers to ensure that they responsibly manage broadband funds by prioritizing areas with the biggest connection gaps.  

There have been some calls in Washington to redefine the legal definition of broadband by raising the speed benchmark. The coalition letter urges policymakers not to raise the benchmark when many areas have not even met the prior benchmark yet.

Raising the speed definition for broadband would hurt rural areas as funds would likely be diverted to allow for urban areas to upgrade their speeds to meet the new broadband speed benchmark. This a time that the nation has needed broadband access more than ever before and raising the broadband benchmark would put many rural and suburban communities only further behind as they compete for broadband funds with areas that already have service.

The letter notes:

“With billions of dollars available for broadband and other infrastructure, many densely populated areas with political clout have lobbied for these funds. State lawmakers should ensure broadband funds flow to areas that lack broadband access, as defined as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, rather than providing funding for areas that already meet these benchmarks. Expanding access should be lawmakers’ No. 1 priority.”

The letter also makes specific recommendations for policymakers to increase efficiency and lower costs by rejecting government-owned networks, cutting red tape, and pursuing free-market solutions to expanding broadband access. The letter notes again:

“Many of our states have had experiences with costly government owned networks which have done little to expand access or adoption… The money flowing to state coffers is not without limits. States should work to stretch every dollar as far as possible by removing red tape.”

The full text of the letter is available here. It was signed by Tech Policy Specialist, Matthew Nicaud, on behalf of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy and the Mississippi Technology Institute.

Policymakers must treat taxpayer funds with fiscal responsibility and public accountability. The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is proud to support sound policies that uphold the best interests of citizens and pursue real solutions to broadband expansion.