White House chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra told a Senate Commerce Committee hearing audience June 22 that he would have a report within 60 days on the impact of the Recovery Act funding on investments, innovation and access to capital.
That would include more than $7 billion that is being handed out in broadband grants and loans through the Commerce and Agriculture Department.
The cable industry has registered its problems with the broadband grant program. In an interview, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow called it a disaster, saying billions were going to duplicate deployment and overbuild his members.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) pushed Chopra for that impact report, saying it was important to find out the effect of that money on access to capital.
Citing the FCC's National Broadband Plan, Sen. Mark Udall (D-N.Mex.) asked whether the U.S. should come up with a national innovation plan including identifying government policies that block innovation, as well as seeking those that promote it.
Chopra suggested that there was already such a strategy, one that was constrained so that most of the innovation would be driven by the private sector rather than from some kind of top-down industrial policy model.
He said that strategy is to remove policy barriers administratively, create more certainty in the market, and make sure the country gets the right return on its investment.
The hearing was a general one on "Innovation in America: Opportunities and Obastacles," the goal of which was "to ask whether our nation has the programs and policies in place to support innovation and stay competitive."
That is the argument being made both for and against the FCC's current initiatives to clarify broadband regulatory oversight and expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines.