In an effort to get more carriers in various states to provide rural residents high-speed Internet, the Connect America Fund has offered up close to $1.7 billion for expansion and support, according to the FCC.
According to the announcement, the funding is for major carriers and they must offer downloads speeds of 10Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps. While this may be a far cry from the FCC's required 25Mbps, this funding could bring Internet to almost 9 million rural Americans. Though, according to their own report, 55 million (17%) of Americans still lack basic broadband.
Carriers will have 120 days to either accept or decline the funding. If they decline, the funds will be put out for competitive bid to other carriers. The funds will be available for the next six years and is part of Phase II of Connect America and is expected to spend more than $10 billion.
Here at RESOLUTE, we have seen first hand what bringing broadband to rural Americans can do for local economies and residents. The push for rural broadband should be commended. While the ultimate expense may end up on the users, carriers need financial backing to establish the needed infrastructure in these rural areas. Mountainous, dry and other extreme terrains make it incredibly difficult to run fiber and wireless point-to-point and point-to-multipoint connections can be a more cost saving and efficient solution.