Twenty-three groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, joined in a late June letter opposing the recently introduced BRIDGE Act (see our June 21, 2021 Blog).
The letter states that the intent of the bill is to close the digital divide, but it will fail to do so. Only 50 percent of its disbursements are mandated for unserved areas, while the remainder of funds may go to areas that have high speed internet, but have asymmetrical upload and download speeds. It calls giving any such priority to these areas over unserved locales a “gross oversight.”
It also grants states the right to put requirements on top of federal standards, which will create a “patchwork of regulations that will be impossible to comply with in any affordable manner.” The irony of the proposed act, according to the letter, is that it gives states the ability to regulate national networks, but prohibits them from setting reasonable guidelines for networks built exclusively within their state.
A CEI research fellow summed up their main point: “Recent increases in broadband investment and improvements in internet connectivity suggest that internet access can be greatly expanded without wasteful subsidies and government interference.”
It will be interesting to see if, or how, this conservative opposition to the BRIDGE Act affects its final form.