back to article O little town of Bethlehem, Georgia. How still we see your internet lie... US govt throws another $600m at rural broadband

The US government has added another $600m to the pot of money that is supposed to expand broadband internet access to rural areas of America. But it remains far from clear how effective the program will be. This time the US Department of Agriculture is the federal agency in charge of the money, with the funds added to a must- …

  1. elDog

    "oligopoly has grown up in the US" - no kidding

    "The economics are not simple, and are further complicated by the fact that an oligopoly has grown up in the US where a small number of very large corporations dominate the market, and have colluded to create a large number of local monopolies. The various US government programs are largely focused on getting companies to install new cables in areas where there are few."

    This is what we do - worship capitalism and our masters. Strange that we (the US) get what we voted for (or probably didn't bother voting for/against.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "oligopoly has grown up in the US" - no kidding

      From a politician perspective, oligopolies and cartels are good. They pay better in lobbying.

      Just they are not a "free market". So don't pretend it is, at least.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "oligopoly has grown up in the US" - no kidding

      > probably didn't bother voting for/against

      I voted against Clinton... look at the choice I was left with. So don't give me that "didn't bother voting" shit.

  2. JohnFen

    No, they're not

    "Those in government are trying to do their best."

    Maybe some few individuals are, but the government overall is certainly not. I don't think they're trying at all, let alone trying to do their best.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: No, they're not

      It's just good'ol empire building.

      Why(TF) is the USDA doing broadband? There's already a funding mechanism via USO that doles out money (minus overheads) to fund broadband. More agencies, more overheads and more likely it'll be the US rural provision's inefficient and fragmented. Which kinda explains the data accuracy as well. FCC wants it by census area, but that's little use for planning construction.

      A more logical and less wasteful approach should be to have the FCC as prime bag man, then doling out the money to munis, who should have far more accurate property maps that can be used to plan works/issue RFPs.

      1. ivan5

        Re: No, they're not

        A more logical and less wasteful approach should be to have the FCC as prime bag man

        The big problem with that is the FCC would just hand the money on to the big incumbent suppliers who are doing nothing about the problem now and would just add it to the directors remuneration package.

  3. Kev99 Silver badge

    This largesse won't do Frontier subscribers any bloody good. Frontier has said in writing it will not apply for or accept any federal monies to expand, upgrade, or improve its rural "broadband" service. Unless one lives in a major metropolitan area you're stuck with tin-can grade DSL that craps out several times a week. And none of the state or federal law enforcement / regulatory agencies will do a thing about Frontier's false and misleading advertising.

  4. redpawn

    Moving at the speed of USDA

    Not a phrase frequently spoken. Daily mail except Sunday is probably what they are measuring success against and farmers can send letters for the same rate as the elite in cities. Ergo all is well.

  5. a_yank_lurker

    One option

    One option is to open the franchises to anyone who wishes to enter the market including local governments. Most of this is done at the state level and since it is not interstate commerce feral legislation often does not apply.

  6. ThatOne Silver badge

    "but will it work or be wasted?"

    Rhetorical question I assume?

  7. Screwed

    I find it difficult to care about their Bethlehem. What about OUR Bethlehem:

    Bethlehem, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

  8. Drew Scriver

    The Obamacare web guys are at it again?

    Maybe the Obamacare website contractor was awarded the contract?

    Just checked the USDA's ReConnect web site. It rivals my rural broadband options - nothing...

    Eligible Service Area page: blank

    Then this. From the press release:

    "To help customers with the application process, USDA is holding a series of online webinars and regional in-person workshops. The full list of upcoming public webinars and workshops can be found at the ReConnect Program’s resource portal at This website is best viewed using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge."

    So I happily checked, and found:

    No events to show Dec 2018

    No events to show Jan 2019

    No events to show Feb 2019

    No events to show Mar 2019

    No events to show Apr 2019

    No events to show May 2019

    No events to show Jun 2019

    I'm using Chrome, so that can't be it. Ha!

    On to the page "Keys to Success". No success, I'm afraid, as this too is a page without content.

    Alright, Scoring Criteria then. Ah - you guessed it - another blank page. Score: 0. F.

    Oh goodie - a mapping tool! Let me check if my area is covered! Er - it just says "Introduction to Mapping Tool". No map or tool, I'm afraid. I'm lost.

    Maybe I should have checked the "Eligible Service Area" page. Guess a map was too much to expect. Alas, blank. No service. Just like our broadband options.

    Well, let's check if we're eligible. On to the "Who May Apply" page. None of the information applies since there isn't any...

    I'm afraid to check out the other pages...

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