Today, almost 15 million Americans, most of them living in rural areas lack broadband. The FCC just announced that the second release of Phase I funds for the Connect American Fund will offer up to $485 million to expand broadband in rural America for both fixed and mobile broadband expansion in unserved areas.
This additional investment comes as the FCC moves into Phase II of the Connect America Fund created in the overhaul and reform of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund program. Phase II will provide ongoing annual support of $1.8 billion for both voice and broadband service. Any funding not accepted in Phase I will be used to connect unserved communities in Phase II.
The total FCC investment in expansion and support of rural fixed, mobile broadband, and voice through universal service is budgeted at $4.5 billion. This public-private partnership stretches the impact of federal funding to reach more communities. In addition, it provides a mechanism to make available additional universal service support if the demand exceeds $300 million
According to FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, “We are taking significant steps to connect unserved communities and consumers, and we are moving another step closer to fulfilling goals set forth in our historical overhaul of the high-cost Universal Service Fund.