FCC Announces ‘Rural Digital Opportunity Fund’ to Boost Broadband

rural wifi symbolThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a $20.4 billion “Rural Digital Opportunity Fund” to help expand high-speed broadband access to rural areas.

Route Fifty reports that the FCC expects the fund to help provide “up to gigabit-speed” of broadband connection to four million homes and small businesses:

The lack of high-speed internet access in many rural areas is a big issue for federal lawmakers, as well as local officials, who have said it has been a hinderance to economic growth. In 2018, the FCC estimated that more than 24 million people lacked broadband access to their homes. The FCC has since provided an initial estimate that the number has dropped to around 20 million people, but that figure has come under fire from critics.

Money for the Opportunity Fund is being “repurposed” from the Universal Service Fund. Additionally, the FCC announced plans to auction more 5G spectrum. The Washington Post reports:

Under the plan, the Federal Communications Commission will release a wide swath of high-frequency airwaves for cellular use in what will be the largest trove of U.S. wireless spectrum ever to be auctioned off. As much as 3.4 gigahertz of “millimeter-wave” spectrum could be sold to wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon in the sale, which will begin Dec. 10, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The Post also provides insight into the international race for 5G dominance and responses to these announcements from proponents and skeptics.

For more information:

FCC Announces $20 Billion Rural Broadband Fund (Route Fifty)

5G is about to get a big boost from Trump and the FCC (The Washington Post)