Optical/IP Networks

Telecom industry cheers deal for $65B in broadband funding

President Biden's ambitious infrastructure proposal appeared to take a major step forward this week as a bipartisan group of senators announced a compromise deal that Biden endorsed.

"We have a deal," Biden said in a statement.

The deal would devote $1.2 trillion toward infrastructure ranging from bridges to railroads. Some $65 billion would be earmarked for broadband.

According to the White House, the money would "connect every American to reliable high-speed Internet, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago. The framework will also drive down prices for internet service and close the digital divide."

However, according to the New York Times, the proposal still faces significant hurdles as it wends through Congress, particularly considering some Democrats may hold up the proposal as they try to advance other spending on health care, child care, higher education and climate change programs.

Nonetheless, some in the telecom industry cheered what appears to be forward progress on broadband funding. "We applaud the news of a bipartisan deal," Christina Mason, vice president of government affairs for the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, said in a release.

Further, some financial analysts noted the proposal appears to sidestep some of the telecom industry's deepest fears. "It is highly unlikely to result in overbuilding or price regulation in ways that caused investors in ISPs to be concerned," wrote the analysts at New Street Research in a note to inventors this week.

That's important because some in the telecom industry worried that Biden's initial proposal would fund the creation of new networks that would compete with existing networks, and would also set hard prices for broadband services.

The New Street analysts wrote that the proposal likely will adhere to recent legislation introduced by a trio of Democratic and Republican senators. That legislation would, among other things, set minimum broadband speeds at 100Mbit/s on the uplink and the downlink and would lift state bans against municipal broadband networks.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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