The Fraud of Government Subsidies

It’s disheartening to be spending millions of my own personal money then watching companies applying for and receiving government subsidies not only to augment their already high monthly bills for residential DSL service but for actual construction. Right now CenturyLink is running fiber all around the city of Tieton using nearly 100 percent government grants. Those are the grants that the politicians keep claiming are for underserved or unserved areas of Internet. Here is a map of locations that are getting government monthly subsidies who most are not even receiving the promised 10mbps download yet CenturyLink is paid to give them service while I have deliverable 15mbps available and have for years.

All Internet providers are required to file Form 477 in which we notify the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of where our service covers and at what speeds we provide. Underserved is classified as a service under 10mbps down and 1mbps up. We have offered and reported 15mbps down and 2.5mbps up for at least 4 years of filing our Form 477. Meanwhile the branch of the FCC that is supposed to audit and approve all requests for government funds the Universal Service Administration Co. (USAC) continues to ignore acquired data by it’s parent agency and hand out millions of, what will end up wasted, funds that don’t decrease the number of people with adequate service but helps them to rebuild their outdated copper wire systems.

I was active in Washington D.C. since they started handing out this money and the Administrator for NTIA and even Ajit Pai from the FCC whom I know both personally have asked “Why aren’t you taking our money, you certainly qualify for it”. “About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent nearly 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.” So the question is why don’t I take some of this money, my daughter says it’s my personal pride to not take government money because to me it’s corporate welfare, and if I can’t make it on my own I shouldn’t be in business. Obviously corporations don’t agree gladly taking money from oil companies to of course the telco companies.

It seems to come down to two things, I could have West Valley wired with fiber to the home in about a year if I took subsidies and other rural areas where I don’t have wireless could also benefit, the paperwork is daunting but doable. Plus if I don’t claim the funds as you can see the big telco’s will happily use that money to overbuild my already built out areas. So it comes down to pride and what I consider ethics, I have them, most others don’t. Do I go down to their level and take the money? As Ajit told me, “with you I know the money will go towards residents, not your company stockholders”. Ya he’s right, as a phone company and major local Internet provider I am exactly who they want to help with so many fraudulent companies applying with no intention of giving any improved services. Life complex decisions, just thought I’d share my thoughts and frustrations with this unlimited slush fund of government money not actually serving the public but just more corporate welfare to those who think of money first, service second.

Forbes Mercy

President – Washington Broadband, Inc.