The cable industry has an ally in the rural Telecommunications Alliance when it comes to where the broadband money in the economic stimulus package should be spent.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the RTA said that while it supports the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which passed the House last week, it wants the money for broadband to go first to un-served areas where there is no existing broadband provider.
"We applaud the current safeguards which wisely target the funds for communities that have no current providers of broadband internet service (i.e. un-served communities)," the group wrote. "These communities should be the first priority for any broadband deployment program. Only once broadband is deployed to each and every rural community should funds be made available for projects in where there is already one broadband provider is already operating (i.e. underserved communities)."
The RTA, which represents a number of farm and rural groups, also said some of the broadband money (about $6 billion in the House version, $9 billion in the as-yet-unpassed Senate version), should go to programs aimed at subsidizing low-cost computers, saying the problem is adoption as well as deployment.
In a blog posting last week, National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow made similar points, saying one of the ways to "move the needle" on broadband adoption without breaking the bank would be to subsidize computers, and arguing that most of the stimulus package money should go to the 8%-10% of the population that is un-served by broadband, rather than "underserved" category where there might already be one or more provider.