City officials worry rural residents are getting more federal aid for broadband

Officials in U.S. cities are raising concerns that new federal money to expand high-speed Internet services could favor rural areas.

City leaders say the rule could hurt some urban communities who also want financial help upgrade their internet services.

The money is part of a $ 350 billion state aid program for state and local governments to help them recover from the corona crisis. The U.S. Treasury Department approved the use of the aid to expand and improve high-speed Internet services.

But there is a government rule justification requirements based on internet speeds. To receive assistance, communities must have Internet transfer speeds below 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and download speeds below 3 Mbps. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission defines high-speed Internet — also known as broadband — as above those speeds.

A pedestrian uses his phone in Kilbourn Reservoir Park on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Milwaukee.  (AP Photo / Morry Gash)

A pedestrian uses his phone in Kilbourn Reservoir Park on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo / Morry Gash)

The purpose of the Treasury rule is to provide funding for Remove, rural areas that have slow or no internet service. But city officials say the qualification requirements are not paying attention to their internet needs. They say that although urban areas have broadband available, internet speeds may not be fast enough to meet local requirements.

For example, some broadband speeds in cities may not be fast enough for an entire family to work, study, and watch video at the same time, these officials say. Such a need became very common in American households during the coronavirus pandemic.

This Kissel is a retired finance minister who previously wrote agency rules. She is now working on expanding broadband services in her community in Arlington, Virginia. Kissel told the Associated Press that the rule “is fundamental priority the rural over the poorly served town areas where there is more population. ”

This Kissel, a former lawyer in the Treasury Department, poses for a photograph at his home in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, September 8, 2021. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

This Kissel, a former lawyer in the Treasury Department, poses for a photograph at his home in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, September 8, 2021. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

Several cities have called on the Treasury to change the rule. Cities include Washington DC, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and San Antonio, Texas. Some officials want the government to define underserved areas as sites with Internet transfer and upload speeds below 100 Mbps.

A study suggests that by changing the definition of high-speed Internet, 82 million households and businesses would see gains from the aid instead of 11 million. The survey was conducted for the America’s Communications Association, which represents small and medium-sized ISPs.

If the Treasury goes ahead with its rule as proposed, internet speeds in some rural areas that currently lack broadband could jump ahead of some urban areas. That possibility has been criticized by some mayors.

“Memphis’ inner city is like one to say need broadband connectivity like rural Tennessee, “said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

A pedestrian uses his phone in Kilbourn Reservoir Park on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Milwaukee.  (AP Photo / Morry Gash)

A pedestrian uses his phone in Kilbourn Reservoir Park on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo / Morry Gash)

In Milwaukee, people already have at least one ISP offering 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. But in some parts of the city, less than half of households have Internet service because of the cost, said David Henke, the city’s chief information officer.

“If you do not have a job and you can not afford broadband, it’s such a thing cycle“Henke said.” You are locked out of distance learning, teleworking, telemedicine and participant basically in a modern society. ”

Broadband industry groups have urged the Ministry of Finance to stick to its plan to raise money for areas with the lowest internet speeds.

Although the public comment period ended in July, the Ministry of Finance has not set a date for publication of the final version of the rule. A finance minister said the process of investigating the comments is likely to “continue into the fall.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report to VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was editor.

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Words in this story

upgrade – v. to improve something by making it newer or better quality

justified adj. qualified to participate in a program or activity

Remove – adj. far away, at a distance

prioritize – adj. to decide which of a group of things are the most important and require attention first

town –Adj. belongs to or relates to a city

to say adj. very serious or bad

afford – v. have enough money to buy something

cycle ­–N. a set of events or actions that happen again and again in the same order

take part – v. attend

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