The US government is yet to allocate any of the $42 billion set aside for expanding broadband coverage because of inaccurate maps.
The broadband plan forms part of a wider $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden last year.
But none of the funding can be legally distributed until the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can demonstrate it has more accurate data on coverage of underserved areas that would benefit most from the cash.
The WSJ says new maps will not be available until November at the earliest. This delay, combined with the need for service providers and citizens to review the information, means it appears the funding will not be released until next year, hampering bids to close the digital divide.
“We understand the urgency of getting broadband out there to everyone quickly,” Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is quoted as saying. “We also know that we get one shot at this, and we want to make sure we do it right.”
It is thought that a third of people in the country lack access to a quality standard of broadband, meaning a significant part of the population is excluded from the economic and social benefits of connectivity.
One of the challenges is that many cities are served by a single cable provider, meaning an absence of competition that would drive down prices and improve service levels. Meanwhile, other households are not covered by the necessary infrastructure.
Via WSJ (opens in new tab)