The USDA is encouraging network operators to deploy symmetric broadband more quickly than its counterparts in the Federal Communications Commission.
When operators apply for funding or grants, those deploying infrastructure with symmetric speeds of 100 Mbit/s or higher get 100 out of 100 points in that category, compared with a much lower score for those meeting the FCC's minimal 25 Mbit/s upload speeds, said Chad Rupe, acting administrator for USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Services. He was speaking at Fiber Broadband Association's Fiber Connect in Orlando this month.
Partners in Bridging the Digital Divide
The USDA has 47 state directors who work with service providers on cutting the red tape, said Chad Rupe, acting administrator for USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Services.
As it writes a new bill to fund rural broadband that will open for public commentary in December, the United States Department of Agriculture wants to ensure high-speed broadband reaches unserved people in a reasonable time frame with solutions that last, Rupe said. It's considering whether to give higher rankings to certain technologies, although that is unlikely given the time constraints of fiber over wireless, for example, he said. And that would put the USDA in providers' decision-making shoes -- a place it does not wish to be, he said.
"One of the things we've looked at... is how long does fiber last versus how long does equipment last that is less robust? Everyone I talk to says fiber is the long-term solution," said Rupe. "[But] we can't leave people behind for 30 years. We have to be somewhat technology agnostic."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.