Stimulus bill seeks plan to ensure all Americans have broadband access

As we've seen in the decidedly botched digital TV transition, nothing involving government and technology is ever straightforward. With that in mind, let us present to you the most germane portion of the recently passed economic stimulus package with respect to gadgets and the overall nerd kingdom: $7.2 billion. That amount is what President Obama has set aside for "broadband grant and loan programs," though things get confusing right from the start. $4.7 billion will be distributed through a program run by the Commerce Department, while $2.5 billion is handed out by the Agriculture Department. In theory, at least, that latter chunk would go specifically to rural and underserved areas, but having one goal with two masters just seems like trouble waiting to happen. Oh, and then there's the mandate to the FCC that instructs it to create (within one year, mind you) a "national broadband plan to ensure that everyone in the US has broadband access." Granted, these aren't entirely unheard of -- Britain just did the same sort of thing a few weeks ago, and South Korea's already aiming at 1Gbps for all. We appreciate that the money's there, but only time will tell if leads to anything meaningful.