Seven billion dollars of the 2009 Recovery Act was dedicated to the deployment of broadband for unserved areas. Since allocating these funds many policymakers have raised the question whether the program was effective in reaching its goals.
A recent report from Navigant Economics reveals evidence that the broadband stimulus was not a cost-effective program and too often simply created a government funded overbuild in areas where private companies had already built broadband networks.
Navigant analyzed a sampling of the broadband stimulus programs and found that the Rural Utilities Service funded broadband build outs to areas where 85% of the homes were already served by cable, DSL, or fixed wireless broadband. If wireless broadband is included, Navigant found that $231 million was spent to bring service to a mere 452 households that were unserved.
The government program did not include wireless broadband in its figures, which Navigant cites as a mistake, especially considering that many wireless speeds exceed the benchmark speeds established by the government for broadband.