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FCC approves $20B rural broadband fund

2020-02-03 18:22 by
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The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve a $20.4 billion plan to subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband networks in rural America. The funding, which will go toward improving broadband access in rural regions, excludes funding projects in New York, Alaska and potentially parts of many other states.

The move was the agency's "single biggest step to date to close the digital divide," the FCC said in a press release Thursday, but two of the five agency commissioners dissented in part to the plan, saying, among other things, that it relies on faulty data.

The duo voting against the funding believes that current estimates of broadband coverage are based on faulty data. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel believes that the money should be used to better determine where coverage is needed rather than doling it out to Internet companies.

ISPs that obtain money through the program will be required to expand their networks to new homes and businesses. Each grant will provide annual support for 10 years, so the $16 billion in Phase 1 will amount to $1.6 billion a year. Phase 1 support will be distributed in a reverse auction beginning later this year.

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