FCC Expanding Rural Broadband

The FCC www.fcc.gov has taken steps toward investing an additional $2 billion to rural networks over the next decade by establishing an auction that will expand broadband in targeted rural areas.

Last year, the largest carriers known as “Price Cap” carriers accepted $9 billion over six years from Phase II of the “Connect America Fund” to expand broadband in their rural service areas. In March 2016, the FCC announced that they are going to provide $20 billion over the next decade.

The auction seeks to expand service to census blocks unserved by broadband delivering speeds of 10Mbps downloads/1Mbps uploads in 20 states where the “Price Cap” carriers declined last year’s Connect America Fund offer. Locations across the country with extremely high deployment costs will be included in the auction.

Virginia has introduced an initiative to benefit rural communities by enabling the communities to let the State know the status of broadband in their community. The initiative “RUOnlineVA” http://RUOnline.virginia.gov enables Virginia residents and businesses to notify the Commonwealth on the access and status to broadband internet connections.

As Governor Terry McAuliffe reports, his budget includes $2.5 million for the Virginia Telecommunications initiative to provide funding for infrastructure expansion in unserved areas of the Commonwealth.

According to Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, “By identifying where the greatest demand for broadband is, RUOnlineVA will enable state-level broadband strategies and policies to be put into place so that broadband will get to every part of Virginia.”

RUOnlineVA launched in May will run through early August, and will leverage an online demand capture tool created by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT).

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