More than 700,000 households in the United States and small businesses in uncoated rural America receive broadband internet connections as part of a recently completed auction under the supervision of the Federal Communications Commission. Broadband services to these unoccupied areas in 45 states - the equivalent of as many as 1.7 million Americans - will be subsidized for the next 10 years with about $ 1.5 billion of federal funds.
Improved broadband services for rural broadband have been a focus of attention for FCC chairman Ajit Pai since he was named President Donald Trump in January 2017. Broadband access "will bring huge benefits to those communities," Pai said.
Two years ago, the FCC came up with the auction as a way to encourage providers to deliver broadband to areas that did not have access to high-speed internet. The agency set aside about $ 2 billion in the Connect America Fund, which comes from the Universal Service Fund, which all consumers contribute to through their telephone and internet accounts. A separate $ 170.4 million of that amount is reserved for the broadband subsidy program of the state of New York.
"I have always been impressed by the rural communities that have (broadband) access and use it to strengthen the lives of the families living there and only the general sense of optimism about the future," Pai, who comes from the small Southeast. Kansas City Parsons, said in an interview.
Among the states that receive the most investment obligations are Missouri ($ 255 million over 10 years), California ($ 149 million) and Virginia ($ 109 million).
"We really hope that in the coming years, with the distribution of these Connect America Fund funds, rural communities that have lost people so far and do not have that sense of optimism about the future can recover some of it."
More than 220 companies participated in the bidding process, a "reverse auction" where bidders who promised to provide the best service for the lowest amount of FCC subsidies that served the region. Collective bids were about $ 500 million lower than expected, so funding will be used for future connectivity in rural areas, says Pai.
The 103 auction winners, announced on Tuesday, included many small telephone companies and ISPs, as well as a big name: Verizon, which secured $ 9.5 million of the $ 1.5 billion in expenses. More than half (53 per cent) of homes and businesses covered by the auction receive download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. All locations will achieve at least 25 Mbps, the FCC said Tuesday.
Winning providers must achieve performance targets, such as 40 percent of housing coverage within the locations they offer within three years.
The crucial role that broadband and mobile providers play in connecting communities to work, education and in emergency situations has been examined by legislators and regulators, especially when there is a gap in coverage. Verizon Wireless apologized last week after it delayed or delayed the service of Santa Clara Fire Department because it had exceeded the allocation of monthly data because the California fire brigade used the phone to coordinate personnel and fire trucks during the fight against the Mendocino Complex Fire this month.
The FCC says that a lack of broadband in rural communities contributes to a "digital divide" in America trying to close these investments. Extra auctions are planned next year.
Pai, who spent two years as a Verizon lawyer before returning to government work and eventually joined the FCC under President Barack Obama, called falling investment in rural and urban areas with low incomes as one of the reasons for the rules of the era of the time to break in which Internet is preventing service providers from blocking and restricting content. These so-called net neutrality rules were based on the authority of the utility model on the basis of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the overloaded ISPs and created a marketplace that led to fewer investments, he argued.
Net neutrality supporters and democrats denied that the investment declines did not happen and that withdrawal was really a way to remove consumer protection. A study of the largest airlines, the basis for the claim of the FCC, showed that investments fell in the two-year period in which the rules were in force. But analysts say this was largely because AT & T, like other carriers, was engaged in a competitive shift that probably played a role.