Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today expressed concern to the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) about a "stimulus" program that awarded $1 million to the U.K. company SamKnows to conduct a broadband speed test, an initiative that produced no American jobs according to the administration's website Recovery.gov.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE), and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) wrote, "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Act) was supposed to go to shovel ready projects and create jobs. And the $4.7 billion in funding from that Act earmarked for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program was supposed to expand broadband access. Yet, oversight hearings in the Communications and Technology Subcommittee have indicated that much of the money has been misdirected or remains unspent
" The $1 million spent on speed tests is perhaps emblematic. That stimulus funding, meant to help here at home, was sent abroad to U.K. company SamKnows and - according to the Recovery.Gov website - created no jobs. What was the rationale for sending Americans' hard earned money overseas for a project that didn't put any Americans to work, especially in the current fiscal climate?
" Now the FCC apparently intends to expand its speed testing to wireless services. What reason do we have to believe this endeavor will be any more valuable? If anything, it will likely be even less meaningful in light of technical challenges."
The members concluded, "While we lament that the Commission and NTIA have already spent $1 million of ARRA funds abroad in an effort that created no jobs and little else, we urge you not to compound this mistake by expanding the scope of the program."
Earlier this year, the subcommittee held a hearing looking at the status of current broadband loans and grants and the effectiveness of such government programs.