The FCC Has Spent Over $5.7 Billion to Expand Rural Internet Access So Far This Year

In April, we reported about the FCC plan for bringing high speed internet access to 106,000 rural homes and businesses in 2019.

Since then, we’ve seen the FCC put that plan into action. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund was designed to roll out infrastructure to rural Americans in peroration for 5G technologies according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Funds for this initiative come from the Universal Service Fund. This fund was made to promote access to phone services in underserved areas and is now being used to bring internet access to those same areas.

“Today’s announcement means that many more rural Americans will have access to high-speed broadband service that will enable them to fully participate in the digital economy— entrepreneurship, telemedicine, precision agriculture, online education, and more,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai back in April. “This is yet another example of how the FCC is working hard to close the digital divide.”

Here’s how much the FCC has been investing in these plans since that announcement.

June 2019: $166.8 million

“Providers will be deploying gigabit-speed connections to the majority of locations for which funding is being authorized today, while nearly 8,000 homes and small businesses on Tribal lands will be getting fixed broadband service for the first time,” the FCC chairman said of this financial commitment.

July 2019: 563.2 million

“High-speed Internet provides access to opportunity in the 21st century, and the FCC’s top priority is closing the digital divide so that all Americans can fully participate in our connected society,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai about this round of funding in partnership with New York State’s Broadband Program.

“Closing the digital divide is the FCC’s top priority, and I’m proud that this partnership will provide many rural New Yorkers with access to the opportunities that high-speed Internet offers.”

August 2019: $137.2 million

With the announcement of this investment, the FCC detailed where the money would be allocated. Recipients of funding included Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries, Tri-Co Connections, Midcontinent Communications, Citynet West Virginia, Armstrong Telecommunications, DTC Cable, and Haefele. Each recipient would receive the money to spend on bringing internet access to rural and underserved locations.

August 2019: $4.9 billion

The largest investment in this push for rural internet access was made to bring broadband to Tribal lands over the next decade. Part of this push will bring high-speed internet to 44,243 homes and businesses on Tribal Lands nationwide.

When the plan was announced in April, the FCC said they would spend a total of $20.4 billion on this intiative. So far, they’ve put just over $5.76 billion toward rural internet access, so we can expect to see more FCC spending in the upcoming months.

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