WASHINGTON, May 23, 2013 - The Federal Communication Commission will offer $485 million to expand fixed broadband access in rural areas, Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said on Wednesday.
The funding is part of a public and private effort to provide broadband services in areas, predominantly rural, that currently lack adequate access. The money is intended to leverage additional private investment in order to more quickly expand broadband infrastructure in unserved areas.
This is the second release of funds under Phase I of the Connect America Fund, which was created, under a recommendation under the National Broadband Plan in 2010, to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband internet by the end of the decade. The FCC is also preparing to enter Phase II, which will provide annual support of $1.8 billion for voice and broadband services, partly through funds not used during Phase I.
The FCC press release highlighted the problem of lack of access, noting that 15 million Americans still have no access to broadband. The release values the global internet economy at $8 trillion and claims that being cut off from it is a significant obstacle to employment and economic prosperity.
The initiative has already gained the support of Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld.
“Moving forward keeps the FCC on track in its ongoing efforts to address the continuing and urgent problem of rural broadband deployment,” he said.