Today’s Wall Street Journal on the fight over the broadband stimulus:
Officials from 38 states have told the administration they should have a big say in allocating broadband stimulus money. State regulators want the Obama administration to give them time to rank broadband projects in their areas. And they’re asking for stimulus funds to hire a few full-time employees to review the applications.
“States have intimate knowledge of their communications environment, geography and demographics, along with every incentive to make certain the money is not wasted and is properly targeted,” said regulators from 38 states in a recent letter to the administration.
Some smaller Internet providers favor state involvement in picking projects, because they’re concerned it may be too costly to compete for grants on their own. Steve Mossbrook, president of Wyoming.com, a wireless Internet service provider who serves about 10,000 customers, said about 80% of his costs come from leasing access to local Internet lines, which are owned by larger phone companies. “I’m trying desperately to encourage the state to take a leadership role and build some [Internet] backbone systems for Wyoming,” he said.