Funds for broadband deployment are part of the economic stimulus package currently under construction on Capitol Hill. Worth noting is that this funding has at least one string attached – network neutrality. Of course, that phrase means different things to different people, so some explanation is in order.
The stimulus funding is focused on areas of the country with little or no internet infrastructure. The legislation, HR 598, currently says that any networks built with this money are to be operated on an “open access” basis. Congress has punted defining what open access means, requiring the Federal Communications Commission to determine what it means within 45 days of enactment. This could be a problem if the designated FCC Chair, Julius Genachowski, is not confirmed prior to the passage of this stimulus bill.