"RUS never found its footing in the digital age," Romm writes. "Sometimes, RUS ignored its rural mission by funding high-speed Internet in well-wired population centers. Sometimes, it chose not to make any loans at all. Sometimes, RUS broadband projects stumbled or failed for want of proper management; loans went delinquent, and some borrowers defaulted. Yet despite years of costly missteps that left millions of Americans stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide, a stable of friendly lawmakers swallowed their doubts about RUS and made sure the politically protected agency wasn’t cut out of the historic stimulus effort." (5W Infographics graphic; click on it for larger version)
"But a bigger, more critical deadline looms for those broadband projects still underway: if these networks do not draw all their cash by the end of September, they will have to forfeit what remains," Romm writes. "In other words, they altogether may squander as much as $277 million in still-untapped federal funds, which can’t be spent elsewhere in other neglected rural communities."
"And either way, scores of rural residents who should have benefited from better Internet access—a utility that many consider as essential as electricity—might continue to lack access to the sort of reliable, high-speed service that is common in America’s cities," Romm writes. "Even RUS admits it’s not going to provide better service to the 7 million residents it once touted; instead, the number is in the hundreds of thousands." (Read more)