Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Rural broadband will get $2 billion over 10 years, but Trump's infrastructure plan appears unlikely to help

The Federal Communications Commission "has taken the final steps toward finally opening its long-delayed Connect America Fund II, which will disburse $2 billion in federal money over 10 years to support new broadband infrastructure in rural areas throughout the country," Devin Coldewey reports for Tech Crunch.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made rural broadband expansion a priority, but he's tried to declare an easy win with failed attempts to redefine what counts as broadband: first he tried to lower the threshold for broadband to include service with a download speed of 4 megabytes per second, instead of the current 25 Mbps. Then he tried to conflate smartphone data plans with broadband. Both those proposals would make it look as though much more of rural America receives broadband access than actually does.

President Trump promised more attention to the nation's infrastructure in his State of the Union address, but Blair Levin of The Brookings Institution writes that his infrastructure plan isn't likely to help with rural broadband expansion.

For a comprehensive look at the current state of rural broadband, check out this article by Sharon Strover, an academic who has been out front on the issue for more than a decade.

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