Wednesday, March 03, 2010

FCC: More than double rural broadband money

The Federal Communications Commission's new National Broadband Plan could include up to $25 billion in new federal spending for high-speed Internet lines with $9 billion of that set to bring broadband to rural areas faster. The plan, proposed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would include funding for "high-speed Internet lines and a wireless network for police and firefighters as part of a broader plan that appears to be a win for wireless companies," Amy Schatz of The Wall Street Journal reports.

The likelihood of Congress approving that amount of spending amid heightened concerns about federal deficits is unknown, Schatz writes, but "the FCC proposal will represent a detailed outline of the Obama administration's ambitions for expanding Internet service to all Americans." FCC reports about 4 percent of American households currently don't have high-speed Internet access, "mostly because they live in rural areas where it is prohibitively expensive for companies to offer service," Schatz writes. The $9 billion rural broadband investment would add to the $7.2 billion investment from the stimulus act.

"The plan will also suggest creating a new broadband account in the federal Universal Service Fund, an $8 billion annual program funded by ratepayers which subsidizes phone service in rural areas and for low-income Americans," Schatz reports. "The new fund would be devoted to funding broadband in areas that don't have high-speed Internet service now." (Read more)

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