Thursday, January 18, 2018

FCC chairman proposes $500 million for rural broadband

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed an order that would provide $500 million in additional funding to bring broadband internet to rural America. The funding would go to cooperatives and small telecommunications companies. The proposed order hasn't been released yet, so more details aren't yet available.

Besides trying to close the rural broadband gap, the order would "institute new regulations aimed at preventing abuse of the Connect America Fund and promote broadband access in tribal lands," Mallory Locklear reports for Engadget. The Connect America Fund, also known as the Universal Service High-Cost Program, is an FCC program to expand telephone and broadband services to rural areas. Under the program, "the FCC provides funding to local telephone companies to subsidize the cost of building new network infrastructure or performing network upgrades to provide voice and broadband service in areas where it is lacking," according to the FCC website.

The proposed order "comes on the heels of President Donald Trump signing an executive order that speeds up federal permitting for broadband expansion in rural areas and makes it easier for wireless operators to put cell towers on federal lands," Jake Smith reports for ZDNet. "As part of a Connect America Fund promise, AT&T has been rolling out wireless internet to rural areas since April of last year and as of September, it had launched its services in 18 states," Locklear reports. 

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