FCC’s Carr Blasts White House on BEAD Management

“It is a program that is going off the rails,” Carr says

FCC’s Carr Blasts White House on BEAD Management
Photo of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr from March 2024 by Drew Clark

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2024 – A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission Monday criticized the management of a major broadband deployment program Congress handed the Commerce Department about three years ago.

“It is a program that is going off the rails,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in Capitol Hill testimony for delivery tomorrow but posted today on the website of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

The Republican regulator said no broadband deployment project under Commerce's Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is expected to break ground before 2026 under a federal law passed in 2021.

“This makes President Biden’s signature BEAD initiative the slowest moving federal broadband deployment program in recent history, as far as I can tell,” Carr said. “Not one person has been connected to the Internet with those dollars – not one home, not one business.”

Carr, along with the other members of the FCC, is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee headed by Rep. Bob Latta, R-Oh.

In a 2021 law, Congress put $42.45 billion into the BEAD program, with grants going to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

To date, many states have yet to receive final BEAD approval.

Carr, one of two Republicans serving on the FCC, blamed delay on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is supervising BEAD for the Biden Administration.

Carr said NTIA has been too interested in imposing rate regulation, favoring fiber construction and pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that were not authorized by Congress.

“So here’s the bottom line – absent major reforms, the Biden Administration’s implementation of this $42 billion BEAD program is wired to fail. It is easy to understand why. Rather than faithfully implementing the statute, the Biden Administration has put its thumb on the scale in favor of extraneous political goals that have more to do with ideology than they do with getting people connected,” Carr said.

Republican criticism of NTIA’s management of BEAD has been intensifying.

In a recent letter to NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson., Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., accused the agency of imposing rate regulation in Virginia by mandating an exact price or formula for low-cost options.

Carr has been using his X account to track the number of days that have elapsed without construction of a single BEAD-funded broadband project.

“What has the Biden Administration been doing in those 967 days instead of connecting Americans? It has been layering on red tape,” Carr said.

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