FCC ponies up $300M to bring broadband to rural America

Internet access might not be a human right, but having a connection to the web can help people get more access to their rights, to new opportunities, to better information — to the world. And with a $300 million subsidy, the U.S. government is hoping to bring that access to more people in remote areas of the country.

The US. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Wednesday this huge sum would be coming into the Connect America Fund, a program intended to bring broadband Internet connections into nearly half a million rural homes and businesses that currently have no Internet access at all.

The service will come via U.S. telecommunications companies, which have a three-month period to decide whether or not to participate in the new CAF initiative.

The $300 million subsidy comes with some handcuffs; telecoms will have to commit to robust plans to build out their networks. These companies will also likely be bringing investment dollars of their own to the project.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the cash infusion represented a “once-in-a-generation reform” of the country’s universal service goals as mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The chairman also stated, “All Americans will benefit while our nation’s global competitiveness is strengthened.”

The United Nations last year went so far as to call Internet access a human right, stating in a report, “Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.”

via The Hill

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