U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will hand out millions in taxpayer dollars to bring broadband internet to Tennessee’s rural areas, but one expert said the investment of money is not worth the expense.
According to The Associated Press, Perdue visited the West Tennessee city of Halls to announce a $2.85 million grant to improve broadband internet connectivity for 347 households and one community facility over an area of 435 square miles in rural Lauderdale County.
But David Williams, president of the Washington, D.C-based Taxpayers Protection Alliance, told The Tennessee Star Tuesday that government is not better at providing these services versus the private sector.
“Billions of dollars have been spent on taxpayer-funded broadband systems, yet these systems fail at an alarming rate,” Williams said in an email.
“While there may be a limited number of cases where government should ensure rural folks have service, time and money would be better spent in breaking down regulatory barriers for 5G wireless connectivity and whitespaces.”
Williams went on to say that federal officials should do a better job managing taxpayer money.
“It is always tempting for members of Congress to spend money on broadband, but the government has been incredibly ineffective and inefficient in building these systems,” Williams said.
“KentuckyWired is over budget and behind schedule and just an absolute mess. By the time that project is finished, 5G will be probably be deployed.”
According to The Associated Press, Congress has provided $600 million to the Agriculture Department to expand broadband infrastructure and services in the rural United States. More funding will be announced later this year in the form of loans, grants, and a combination of the two.
Perdue said the funding will “bridge the gap” between urban in rural areas when it comes to the quality of life and productivity of businesses, The Associated Press reported.
In March, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced that 13 companies in 17 counties would receive $14.8 million in broadband accessibility grants, according to The Associated Press.
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