Applications for some of the $7.2 billion set aside for rural broadband are due August 14. The question taken up in a Business Week report is what technologies will companies employ to extend broadband to sparsely populated areas — and at what cost? The Federal Communications Commission is agnostic on the technology, saying only that it needs to be “cost-effective to install, provide consistent performance at an affordable price, and be able to upgrade to higher speeds over time,” according to Business Week.
The agencies reviewing the applications — the Agriculture Dept.’s Rural Utilities Service and the Commerce Dept.’s National Telecommunications Information Administration — are giving applicants higher scores for faster speeds, but they are also scoring higher for how quickly the systems can be put into place. In the past, the Rural Utilities Service has given 37% of its loans to those who run fiber optic cable directly homes; 23% has gone to wireless; 22% has gone to DSL; 17% has gone to cable; and 1% to the new technology of using electric lines. Those interviewed by Business Week predicted wireless would see an increasing percentage of the action in future grants and loans.