President Joe Biden’s “Internet for All” program has committed $65 billion to expand high-speed internet access, but is facing astronomically high costs to connect individual homes in rural areas, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The average cost per home connection is $53,000 each for Nebraska’s Winnebago Tribe, while some Montana homes could cost over $300,000 per connection, director of Montana’s Department of Administration Misty Ann Giles told the WSJ. In some cases, the total cost of providing internet connection to certain homes will even surpass the properties’ values.
Fiber-optic cable internet connection is the industry norm, but satellite service is more affordable. However, it is less dependable, and the Biden administration has prioritized funding fiber connections.
Congress has given authority to the state and federal officials executing the program to determine the acceptable cost limits in areas that are difficult to reach.
Biden’s Department of Agriculture also spent tens of millions in tax dollars to provide fiber optic internet to rural southeast Alaska in 2022, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported. It awarded a $33 million grant to the Alaska Telephone Company (ATC) to deliver fiber to 92 homes and a total of 211 people and five businesses in two Alaska native villages called Skagway and Chilkat, according to a federal grant award listing.
Tech publication Fierce Telecom estimated ATC’s plan would cost around $204,000 per residence and business, according to an analysis.
The White House and Giles did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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