The US government will be awarding roughly $7 billion of grants designed to promote broadband use by unserved and underserved Americans.They are expected to announce the rules for this process by the end of June. Thousands of applications are predicted. Government policymakers will face an enormous challenge of picking winners both well and quickly. The apps will vary in many ways. Here is one simple idea that could help. The government should require all applicants to specify what their projected cost per subscriber will be for their scheduled deployment at 1, 2 and 3 years assuming a 25, 50 and 100% penetration. This approach would help facilitate “apples to apples” comparisons. While the benefits of the applications will vary, the decisionmakers would at least have a basis for comparing costs. In this way the benefits of competing applications for an area (the “numerator”) could be adjusted by considering the differences in costs (the “denominator).” This approach could foster better and quicker decisions. If the applicant’s information is considered proprietary, it could be given confidential treatment.
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