Federal regulators have some critical decisions to make in the coming weeks that could determine whether the $7.2 billion in stimulus funds designated for broadband will create the optimal number of jobs or be distributed wisely, CNET reports. Decisions such as whether to withhold the money until new policies are developed or broadband data are collected could make the funds even less effective at creating jobs, said some speakers on a panel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce March 4. "It starts to blur the line between stimulus and just good national investment," said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. "There’s a sort of half-life on stimulus funds. At the end of the day, [the economic recovery package] was sold to the American people as a stimulus." The stimulus package includes $350 million for the creation of a broadband inventory map that will lay out, in detail, areas of the country that lack broadband access. Atkinson said he has heard some in Washington suggest that the rest of the broadband money be withheld until the mapping exercise is complete–something he says would significantly mute the stimulative impact of the money. Yet, without accurate information about where broadband is already deployed, agencies run the risk of distributing money inefficiently…

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