I agree that it would be good for rural communities to have access to broadband internet and it could be a useful commercial tool for them – not least to generate more competition in the rural supply chain. But there are two important issues here, one economic, and one technical. The economic one is that a group of rent-seekers has found a pork barrel they believe can feed off at the expense of other taxpayers. They are seeking a subsidy. They shouldn’t, they will end up beholden to other parties for a key tool of their business, losing some more of their commercial freedom in the process. They need to pay for this service themselves, perhaps at a premium, but it will be theirs to make gains from and it will also upgrade itself to their advantage through time through their sovereignty as consumers.
The technical issue is that broadband, as presently delivered, is a “cludge". ADSL uses copper wire technology, raising the voltage and data frequency/capacity of existing wires that are in most places very old. That’s why broadband is faster when you are nearer to your local telephone exchange. If you live in a distant place you need to wait until a locally situated sub-exchange exists with an optical fibre connection. That puts you near to your exchange like everyone else with broadband.
But think about it, putting this technology into rural areas is a civil engineering issue, digging trenches, running cables, building small huts with optical amplifiers in remote valleys. There is almost nothing that government is slower or less efficient at as agreeing where to place infrastructure. Planning, agreeing a plan, funding a plan, clearing a plan through Local Authority Planning takes for ever. That’s why some rural communities have actually taken to digging their own trenches to bring optical fibre nearer (privatization has allowed you to hook third party fibre into BT’s networks thank goodness).
During “for ever" there are other technologies that will be ready with a far faster installation track; broadband wireless, broadband satellite, broadband via the power grid to name three. Rural communities would be far better asking the government to get out of the way, lobbying private entities (or creating their own Rural Broadband Corporations) to get a price, a contract and a timescale for their own broadband. They’d pay a bit more, but they would get an early service, with proper upgrades and wouldn’t be beholden to others because of an unjust begging bowl.