FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is aware that bringing high-speed internet connections to isolated areas of the United States is often not economically feasible for companies with a responsibility to earn a profit. The Connect America Fund has a plan to cure that.
It is offering nearly $1.7B to service providers ready and willing to provide that service.
The plan outline: “The offer to the rural operations of the largest telecom providers – known as price cap carriers – would provide ongoing support for networks that can deliver broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps uploads to nearly nine million rural residents nationwide. The funding represents a 71% increase from current funding for these areas, but is accomplished without increasing the size of the Universal Service Fund – or increasing ratepayer fees.”
“Today’s offer of $1.675 billion for rural broadband deployment will connect millions of rural Americans who lack access to modern high-speed Internet service,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “The Connect America Fund is tackling the rural digital divide so that all Americans can have access to the jobs, education and opportunities provided by broadband, no matter where they live.”
Carriers have 120 days to sign up for the program. They will have until 2020 to fully build out the systems, with benchmarks along the way that must be met.
Eventually, more than $10B is expected to be allocated to the buildout of broadband service to rural America.
The FCC noted that the project is exactly akin to the provision of telephone service to America’s less populated areas.