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Subsidies Hinder Broadband Penetration

"Universal service subsidies and other state-based support schemes do not help broadband penetration rates in rural areas, according to one of the first studies of empirical results of the effectiveness of such schemes. In a report that will be seized on by critics of government subsidy and competition policies, the AEI-Brookings Joint Centre for Regulatory Studies undertook a study that mapped broadband penetration across the US measured against various federal and state-based policies governing rights-of-way, unbundling, subsidies and direct municipal network provision. The study found that universal service mechanisms and programs targeted at underserved areas do not boost broadband penetration and may even slow it, possibly by giving an artificial advantage to one type of provider or another. Likewise, tax incentives appear to have no impact. It also concluded that laws limiting municipal deployment of broadband are not statistically correlated with broadband penetration; that access to public rights-of-way by broadband providers is strongly correlated with broadband penetration; and that telecom unbundling regulations also affect penetration, but resold lines are positively correlated with it."

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