FCC approves $4.5 billion 'Connect America' broadband fund

By on October 28, 2011, 11:00 AM

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a broadband internet fund that will give money to private companies in order to deliver internet access to rural households. The Connect America Fund is the latest “new economy” project backed by the US government and is said to take the system designed for the Alexander Graham Bell era and modernize it for the Steve Jobs era.

The $4.5 billion deal will acquire funding through traditional consumer fees that had been used to service telephone lines in less populated areas of the country. Private contractors will now use that money to provide broadband internet connections to the remaining five percent of the nation that doesn’t have high-speed access.

The FCC hopes that within a decade, an additional 18 million Americans will have access to high-speed internet connections either through traditional landline connections or mobile services at 3G or 4G speeds.

As with any decision, there are those who are in favor and those who disagree with the ruling. Those in favor say the FCC has been out of touch with communication trends for years, pointing to the fact that 33 percent of Americans have replaced their home telephone service with wireless service. Internet providers also favor the ruling, largely because it will equate to more customers using their service.

Those against the move include certain consumer groups and phone companies that feel the plan will result in higher phone bills, somewhere in the ballpark of 50 cents or more per month. That seems like a small price to pay for modern internet access. Still others feel that the wording of the plan hints that phone companies could get first dibs at contracts, leaving cable and wireless providers out to dry.

Image via asharkyu / Shutterstock




User Comments: 15

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You're kidding. 4.5 BILLION dollars to get Internet to the remaining 5% of the households who don't have it? Listen, people who live out in the middle of frickin' nowhere are there because they want to be. And more often than not, it's because they don't want contact with the general masses anyway.

If they want high-speed Internet connection, let them pay for the satellite version or foot the bill for the cable themselves.

Sheesh...it's no wonder we're in a financial mess.

Timonius Timonius said:

...yeah, and in ten years the $4.5 billion will have been spent on obsolete broadband and 4G technology. They'll still be behind.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

Why does it feel like our prices are going to go up?

Cota Cota said:

When i read the title i was expecting more like a project to increase U.S. general speeds... what a pity

ghasmanjr ghasmanjr said:

TomSEA said:

Listen, people who live out in the middle of frickin' nowhere are there because they want to be. And more often than not, it's because they don't want contact with the general masses anyway.

If they want high-speed Internet connection, let them pay for the satellite version or foot the bill for the cable themselves.

I grew up in a rural area. My parents moved there to get out of the city and away from crime/city life. That doesn't mean that we wanted to be disconnected from the outside world. I wanted to have xbox live all through high school but the internet just wasn't fast enough. I had to wait until college before I could actually go online and play games.

We got satellite internet for a while, but the service was awful. Living in the middle of a corn field leads to high winds which knocked our dish off alignment numerous times. It would take them a month to fix it. When it did work, speed tests showed us that we had ~200kb/s download and ~100kb/s upload. That is bullshit, especially since the bill was well over a hundred dollars a month. Spending this much money is actually going to stimulate the economy in many ways. People are going to have a lot more money in their pockets. According to econ class, more money in pockets = stimulated growth.

Guest said:

Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, more commonly known as UTOPIA. A group of 16 Utah cities that joined together to form a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network. They decided to go rural first. The most expensive deployment with the fewest subscribers. Needless to say they ran out of money. It's been nearly a decade and we still don't have service, living in Utah's second largest city.

Guest said:

I'll bite. Spending money does stimulate the economy. Shovel ready vs Spoon ready... which is a better use of funds? Oh right, it's not their money they're spending.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I agree with ghasmanjr. My parents live 6 miles north of a town of 2000, which is only 9 miles by road north of an interstate highway, and they can't get broadband. Satellite is not an option for the reasons ghasmanjr stated.

Missouri had some bill approved for getting broadband to rural areas, but that was just political speak, when you looked at the areas that were getting it it was areas that were along major state highways.

I would think something like WiMax would be the way to go here.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Wtf all this money being spent. I hope something good comes from it.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

TomSEA said:

You're kidding. 4.5 BILLION dollars to get Internet to the remaining 5% of the households who don't have it? Listen, people who live out in the middle of frickin' nowhere are there because they want to be. And more often than not, it's because they don't want contact with the general masses anyway.

If they want high-speed Internet connection, let them pay for the satellite version or foot the bill for the cable themselves.

Sheesh...it's no wonder we're in a financial mess.

Your narrow vision surprises me.

I probably don't need to tell you that those old curmudgeons have children and those children will want this kind of access. Of course, those same luddites who moved into rural oblivion 20 years ago couldn't have foreseen the benefits.

Also "rural" can be 5 minutes outside of town in many areas and even some city dwellers STILL don't have *access* to high-speed internet. WTF? That's true even here in Los Angeles.

Of course, I probably don't have to tell you that $5,000,000,000 is not even 0.01% of the U.S. budget. If the government can spend more on bank bailouts than they have on NASA for the past 50 years, they can spend tiny fractions of money to modernize our infrastructure for the future.

ProCompSolution said:

Maybe this will knock those BIG Giants down a peg or two. I like the competition between internet companies it makes them both work harder for our hard earned cash. So rather then Big Giant that has no competition in our area saying yup Sir thats what you get and there is nothing more we can do for you, they will be saying Yes sir we will get right on it. Thats the way it should be.

Guest said:

I have had satellite for 2 years, at a price of $89.00 a mo.-- download is only 400mb a day...go over and you have to buy more time or wait 24 hours for replenish..can't even download a friggin movie..

It is time that the rural community gets what others are getting..

Guest said:

As the owner/operator of a small ILEC,I heard it every day,"when are you going to get me high speed Internet!?!" My reply was often "when you are willing to pay $200/month for it!". I bit the bullet and made the investment to offer my customers high speed Internet. I projected 50 maybe 70 customers would want DSL, I installed 75 in the first 10 months and currently have 102. That's all without advertising, all word of mouth neighbor to neighbor. 102 customers at $35/month doesn't even pay for the 4.5mbs of T1s I have to have to provide them with 384kbs, forget about the initial investment. If I have any more customers that want it I will have to get another T1, at $1k/month to prevent, the already too high, network load. The question of wether or not rural customers want broadband irrelevant, THEY DO! the question is can it be made available to them at a reasonable cost. Hopefully the CAF will do that, cause with the end of the USF and HCLS comes the death of small independent telcos.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

insult to injury. DSL was approved and funded for equal up/down load speeds. That fund was pilfered for rural America access ~10 years ago. Now these J***ks will fund another try and likely pilfer it too.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

+1 for Rick.

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