FCC gives out $1.7 billion to upgrade rural broadband service

May 03, 2015 11:44 pm
John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable reports the FCC last week announced $1.7 billion in subsidies to the largest telecom providers in the U.S., hoping to bring broadband to 8.5 million Americans in rural locations. "The offer to the rural operations of the largest telecom providers — known as price cap carriers — would provide ongoing support for networks that can deliver broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps uploads to nearly nine million rural residents nationwide," said the FCC's press release about the subsidies. "The funding represents a 71 percent increase from current funding for these areas, but is accomplished without increasing the size of the Universal Service Fund — or increasing ratepayer fees." The funds are meant for census tracts where the cost of providing broadband exceeds $52.50 a month, and that are not served by unsubsidized competitors offering at least 4 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads. According to the FCC, nearly one in three rural Americans lack access to 10 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads, compared to only one in 100 urban Americans that lack such service.