Musk and Carr tag team against the Biden administration’s inability to dish out BEAD funding until 2025

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

Commissioner Brendan Carr and Elon Musk are concerned about the delays in the broadband rollout being caused by Alan Davidson.

BEAD BOSS ALAN DAVIDSON, left, believes that the NTIA is getting close to connecting unserved homeowners with high-speed internet. However, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr disagrees, stating that shovel-ready projects will not be ready until 2025, possibly later. Elon Musk has also criticized Davidson’s management, stating that the Biden administration’s program is “an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and is utterly failing to serve people in need.” The delay in releasing funds has severely affected the wireless infrastructure installation industry,

Elon Musk and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr have publicly criticized the Biden administration for its handling of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. The $42.45 billion initiative, designed to provide high-speed internet to unserved and underserved areas, has yet to make significant progress in its implementation, leading to frustration and backlash from prominent figures and policymakers.

An article in the Washington Times recently criticized the Biden administration over the BEAD program, stating that it is taking too long to connect to broadband. The piece highlighted the delays in project approvals and the slow pace of implementation, attributing these issues to bureaucratic red tape and additional requirements that have been introduced since the program’s inception.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and owner of the Starlink satellite internet division, took to his X platform to voice his disapproval of the program. “This government program is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and is utterly failing to serve people in need,” Musk wrote to his 187.7 million followers. His post quickly gained traction, with over 70,000 likes, reflecting widespread discontent with the program’s slow progress.

Musk’s criticism is notable given that Starlink, his satellite internet service, competes with fiber broadband initiatives like BEAD. While Musk stands to gain from delays in fiber broadband deployment, his concerns echo those of many who are frustrated with the program’s pace.

In December, the FCC reaffirmed its 2022 decision to deny SpaceX satellite internet unit Starlink $885.5 million in rural broadband subsidies.

The FCC said the decision impacting Elon Musk’s space company was based on Starlink’s failure to meet essential program requirements and that Starlink could not demonstrate it could deliver promised service after SpaceX had challenged the 2022 decision.

SpaceX said it was “deeply disappointed and perplexed” by the FCC decision, adding Starlink “is demonstrably one of the best options – likely the best option” to accomplish the goals of the rural internet program.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr dissented from the decision, saying the FCC was improperly holding SpaceX to 2025 targets three years early and suggested that the Biden administration’s anger toward Musk was to blame.

Starlink had previously committed to offering high-speed Internet in rural areas for $1,377 per location in support. The Biden administration is now spending $5,125 per location.

Commissioner Carr echoed Musk’s recent sentiments, emphasizing the inefficiencies and delays caused by the administration’s approach. Carr highlighted that not a single construction project funded by BEAD dollars has commenced, with no projects expected to start until 2025 at the earliest. He attributed these delays to the administration’s focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals, climate change priorities, and complex bureaucratic processes that have slowed down the rollout of critical infrastructure.

Carr pointed out that $42.5 billion has been allocated, yet not a single home has been connected to the internet with these funds. He warned that no significant progress would be made until at least 2025, criticizing the administration for adding layers of bureaucracy that have delayed the program’s implementation.

“There’s no question that the 2021 law put some process in place, but the Biden administration decided to layer on top of that a Byzantine additional set of hoops that states have to go through before the administration will approve them to actually get these funds and start completing the builds,” Carr told FOX Business in an interview.

Those hoops include:
• Preference for hiring union workers, who are scarce in some rural areas.
• Requiring providers to prioritize “certain segments of the workforce, such as individuals with past criminal records,” when building broadband networks.
• Requiring eligible entities to “account not only for current [climate-related] risks but also for how the frequency, severity, and nature of these extreme events may plausibly evolve as our climate continues to change over the coming decades.”

The BEAD program is managed by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA).

The funding for BEAD was included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, reflecting a significant investment in America’s digital future.

However, Washington Republicans have criticized the NTIA for its handling of the program, accusing it of unlawfully imposing rate regulation on states and failing to allocate project money promptly.

Despite these criticisms, NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson has defended the agency’s approach, arguing that the program’s affordability mandate is flexible and necessary to ensure low-income users have access to affordable plans.