FCC Moving Forward With Rural Broadband Improvements

FCC Schooley MitchellThe Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America program has been given the green light by a federal appeals court to begin funding improvements to rural broadband infrastructure. Instead of covering rural telephone service costs, the $4.5 billion program will now set its sights on high-speed Internet service in high-cost rural areas.

The FCC kickstarted the effort in 2011, but phone companies that were enjoying annual subsidies under the program protested and took the matter to court. In its judgement, the appeals court dismissed their complaints, saying the phone companies were “either unpersuasive or barred from judicial review.”

Connect America is part of the Universal Service Fund, which helps libraries, schools and health care providers gain access to advanced telecommunications services in an equitable manner. It is funded through interstate end-user revenues.

“Congress has directed the commission to ensure that all Americans receive the benefit of 21st-century communications,” FCC spokesperson Kim Hart, was quoted as saying. “With today’s across-the-board affirmance of our landmark 2011 reforms, the commission has tools in hand to accomplish that critical goal.”

*Source: NY Times