FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly apologized to Tongue River Communications, a family broadband business that the Commissioner says is apparently facing “government-subsidized overbuilding.”
“If accurate, it’s shameful, given many Americans have no broadband access,” O’Rielly said in a tweet. “All federal broadband funding must strongly and clearly prohibit such waste and target” the unserved.
The outgoing Commissioner is referring to a story on the ACA Connects web page in which Tongue River co-founder Robert Jacobson says the Wyoming government is “wasting millions of dollars” by sending CARES Act money to broadband companies that intend to compete with other broadband providers that already achieve data transmission speeds far in excess of the FCC’s minimum definition of broadband: 25 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 3 mbps upstream.
According to Jacobson, this victimizes small broadband internet providers like Tongue River. Begun in 1979, he owns the company in Ranchester, WY, along with his wife, Lynda and their son Rob. The family dug trenches and laid cable and strand themselves to build the business.
He called the award of $1.1 million in ConnectWyoming program money to Visionary Communications to construct a fiber system in Ranchester and Dayton, WY, “an inside deal,” with no transparency, which he formally challenged. That funding, claims Jacobson, could ruin his company.
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