In 2009, the last time federal agencies gave away billions of dollars for broadband, there were two agencies tasked with dispensing roughly $3.5 billion each. They had a year and a half to do what was then considered miracle work pushing that that much money out the door that quickly. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but they got it done.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for dispersing more than three times as much money through E-rate and the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) programs. The money comes with a mandate to act as quickly as possible.
So things are predictably frantic, the rules are not particularly clear, and there’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about incumbents (the local telecommunications companies that were in place before deregulation in 1996) lining up at the “socialist trough.”