FCC Wants to Help Connect Rural America To Broadband

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Rural America deserves broadband internet as much as everyone else, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is expected to propose that the $8 billion fund used to subsidize rural telephone service be adapted into one that helps pay to provide underserved areas with broadband internet.

The fun, known as the Universal Service Fund, is paid for through fees added to most telephone bills, and shared between telephone companies to subsidize costs throughout rural areas. The new FCC proposal will suggest stopping splitting the money between telephone companies and instead consolidating everything into a new pool to be called the Connect America Fund, which will also be used to subsidize broadband internet connectivity. An early draft of remarks to be given by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will describe the Universal Service Fund as “unsustainable,” and suggest that the broadband infrastructure that will be provided as a result of the Connect America Fund will itself be used to provide phone service.

Despite the proposal of the changes to the fund, there’s no news about whether phone companies will still be expected to provide the actual funding, especially if they’re not necessarily going to get it back in order to pay for rural phone service. An announcement on that is said to be “several months away.”

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