Journalism in the Public Interest


Broadband Companies to Feds: Keep Your Stimulus Money

 Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

Major broadband carriers are turning their backs on stimulus money, reports The Washington Post. The stimulus package offers $7.2 billion in grants to spread high-speed Internet access, but three big players — AT&T, Verizon and Comcast — have decided not to apply for the funds, according to industry sources. The companies are reportedly concerned about the scrutiny that would come with accepting the money, as well as a condition that would prevent them from favoring some applications and content over others, a rule known as net neutrality.

Meanwhile, the application deadline for some of those broadband grants has been extended — because government servers couldn't handle the broadband traffic. According to a notice (PDF) posted on, the deadline for electronic applications has been pushed back a week, because the online application system "has experienced service delays due to the volume of activity from potential applicants."

Should there be a second stimulus package? The New York Times hosted a virtual debate on the question between two economists: Casey B. Mulligan, a professor at the University of Chicago, and Dean Baker, co-director at the Center for Economic Policy Research. Opening arguments took place Monday; the rebuttals were posted today. Who do you think won? E-mail us and we’ll include our favorite responses in a future roundup.

Fox News has released poll results showing that 72 percent of Americans believe giving what's left of the $787 billion in stimulus money to taxpayers would do more to boost the economy than letting the government spend it. A polling company asked (PDF) the following question: "So far only a small amount of the $787 billion dollars in economic stimulus money has been spent. Which do you think would do more to boost the economy -- the government spending the rest of the stimulus money or the government returning the money to the taxpayers?" Just 19 percent of respondents chose the first option, according to Fox.

Are you tracking the stimulus? ProPublica has set up a mailing list for reporters covering the stimulus, and you're welcome to join.

So, the major telecoms are stiffing those of us without broadband in rural areas. Perhaps the Commerce Department could take over Internet communications if private enterprise is failing us.

Greggory Knowles

Aug. 15, 2009, 8:37 p.m.

I dont think the major telecoms owe americans anything or for that matter we dont owe them a free grant. The last thing we need is the the government taking over internet communications just to please some socialist agenda of total government control and redistribution of wealth. I feel so sorry for Americans who believe the goverment is here to serve and allow us to sloth around waiting on handouts. Nothing would make me happier than to see this stimulus money stop and recall/void this package completely. I for one will help vote out the lawmakers who let this terrible bill pass.

“total government control and redistribution of wealth” is not being suggested here. You may be happy with your dial-up or other slow Internet service but I am not. Our representatives voted for rural broadband subsidy and so it is not a question of the telecoms owing us anything.

Greggory Knowles

Aug. 18, 2009, 9:39 a.m.

All I am saying is, don’t ask or expect me (Federal Dollars) to pay for it. I would suggest groups and other like minded citizens in communities without broadband pay for the service with their own resources. Not expect the government to even be involved. Where does the thought process come from that the government has the responsability to provide private (Luxury) services. Now I could understand if the government were to invest in internet infrastructure to increase tax revenue but I am not convinced the return would overcome the costs. Good luck.

“Now I could understand if the government were to invest in internet infrastructure to increase tax revenue but I am not convinced the return would overcome the costs.”

Don’t spread technology to the rest of the country unless you can make money off of it? 

The Government is for the people by the people….not the people in certain areas of the country.  Your not the only one who pays taxes….good thing too we might be in worse shape.

Greggory Knowles

Sep. 8, 2009, 12:06 p.m.

Exactly! I don’t think internet access is part of the general welfare clause but I have seen further stretches and misinterpretations. Many Americans are growing weary of watching the broad daylight generational robbery. Eventually you just have to stand on your own two feet. Right? Take the training wheels off, fall down a few times, and soon you will be riding like an adult. Good luck and please keep your hands out of my pockets.