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FCC votes today on 2nd phase of Connect America Fund to expand broadband to rural areas

There will be a voting at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission today, on April 23, which might pass a proposal to invest $1.8 billion into its Connect America Fund that subsidizes the broadband Internet implementations in rural areas.


If FCC votes on this propose, then its fund will help subsidizing the broadband service to provide the Internet to around 5 million residents of rural U.S. who don’t have coverage now. According to a FCC official, this new funding will be planned for next year and it would increase 70 percent in subsidies.

On October 27, 2011, the FCC voted to shift long-time telephone subsidies to broadband deployment by transitioning the subsidies for traditional telephone service in its Universal Service Fund. Since then, FCC’s Connect America Fund has spent $438 million to bolster the broadband Internet to over 1.5 million U.S. residents and used $300 million to widen mobile broadband service to rural communities. Find more detailed information on its first-phase in this link.

So the second-level of plan will be voted today, which would make the $1.8 billion fund available optionally to the largest telecom providers in U.S. like AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink. If any of these carriers reject the subsidy provided by Connect America Fund, the FCC will conduct a bidding process to provide the fund to other telecom players. A proposal to approve the details of the bidding process will also be voted on the same day.

FCC might also consider to provide the fund to the smaller U.S. carriers and it may order the receivers of the Connect America Fund to increase the minimum download speeds of the broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps, to get the subsidies. The fund might also target areas of U.S, where the latest 4G LTE service hasn’t reached yet.

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