US to vote on sharp increase in broadband subsidies

New funds target broadband deployment to 5 million US residents, the FCC says

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote Wednesday on a proposal to pump US$1.8 billion into a fund that subsidizes broadband deployments in rural communities.

It would be the second investment for the FCC's Connect America Fund and should bring broadband service to nearly 5 million U.S. residents who don't have coverage now, an FCC official said. The new funding, planned for next year, would amount to a 70 percent increase in subsidies, said the official, speaking on background.

The FCC voted in October 2011 to begin transitioning subsidies for traditional telephone service in its Universal Service Fund to broadband subsidies. To date, the new Connect America Fund has spent $438 million to expand broadband to about 1.6 million U.S. residents and $300 million to expand mobile broadband service. It subsidizes deployments in rural communities and other areas where it would be expensive to build networks.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the phase-two plan Wednesday. The $1.8 billion would be made available to the largest telecom carriers in the U.S., including Verizon Communications, AT&T and CenturyLink. Those carriers would have the option of accepting the subsidy and building out broadband service, or rejecting the money.

If the large carriers reject the subsidy in an area of the country, the FCC would award the subsidy based on a bidding process. The commission on Wednesday will vote on a proposal to approve the details of that bidding process, the official said.

The FCC will also issue a proposal asking for public input on whether the Connect America Fund should increase the minimum download speeds of broadband available to get subsidies. The current minimum is 4Mbps, but the agency will ask whether the minimum should be 10Mbps.

It will also ask for input on whether a second version of its Mobility Fund should target areas of the country that lack 4G LTE service. And it will consider whether to establish a Connect America Fund for the small telecom carriers, the official said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationU.S. Federal Communicationsat&tregulationCenturyLinkgovernmentVerizon Communicationsbroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?