"The new FCC experiment is looking for 'diverse' rural organizations to tell the commission how they would invest Connect America Fund money in rural broadband projects," Marema writes. "That opens potential applicants up to nonprofit organizations, cooperatives, municipal or tribal governments and private businesses, for starters." Edyael Casaperalta, coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group, told the Yonder, “This is a chance to show the FCC that there’s a lot of interest among rural providers for this funding."
The problem, though, is convincing the FCC that there's a demand for funding. Jonathan Chambers, the chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, told the Yonder, “I think if we see a big expression of interest, we’ll set a bigger budget. We’ve got to hear from folks first, and I think we will. . . . But if we don't hear anything, we'll learn something.”
"In 2010, the FCC restructured the Universal Service Fund and established the Connect America Fund as part of the National Broadband Plan," Marema writes. "The fund is supposed to help telecommunications companies make the transition to new technology like broadband, especially in harder-to-reach areas like rural communities. But the funding has been available only to large 'incumbent' telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon." When some companies turned down the money, because of issues with rules, money was left in the funds. But some groups that wanted the money for rural broadband weren't eligible for it. Now they could be. (Read more)