tl;dr – Principles to Guide Broadband Infrastructure Build-Out
Background… The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the resilience of U.S. broadband infrastructure, the extent to which we rely on that infrastructure, and the geographies and communities where broadband build-out lags behind. As the extent and impact of the digital divide has been made clearer, there is renewed interest in the best ways to expand broadband access to better serve all Americans.
But… Policymakers should eschew calls to address the digital divide simply by throwing vast sums of money at the problem. Moreover, they should take account of the dynamic nature of broadband markets and avoid highly prescriptive mandates. They should, instead, pursue a principled approach designed to encourage entry in new regions, while avoiding poorly managed subsidies and harmful price controls that would discourage investment and innovation by incumbent internet service providers (ISPs).
However… As Congress and the White House prepare to debate infrastructure proposals that include potentially more than $100 billion in spending on broadband, the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) proposes the following principles to guide legislative deliberations to expand broadband access.