The National Cable & Telecommunications Association wants the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make sure that the money it is loaning to help spur the rollout of broadband does not go, instead, to cable overbuilders.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns Tuesday, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow says that, while the association supports the USDA's Rural Utilities Service Broadband Loan Program in principle, which is to "spur the deployment of broadband in areas of the country that lack broadband servicein practice," in practice, he says, it being used to "unfairly subsidize second and third broadband providers in communities where private risk capital already has been invested to provide broadband service."
He points out that $100 billion of that capital has been plunked down by cable operators over the past 10 years.
McSlarrow says that having invested that money in helping bridge the digital divide, his industry is penalized by having to face government-subsidized competition, which he said will make the private sector think twice about further investment in rural areas, while diverting money from areas that really need it.
He asked the secretary to "take whatever steps necessary" to make sure the money is carefully targeted to unserved areas.