By Amber Ellis
Rural America can look forward to a more connected future because a federal court in May upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to subsidize high-speed Internet service in remote areas.
The $4.5 billion initiative previously provided telephone service subsidies to only high-cost areas, but the FCC identified broadband access as “a necessity for full participation in our economy and society,” making internet access the highest priority. Dubbed the “Connect America Fund,” this initiative is expected to provide broadband access to 18 million Americans and create 500,000 jobs.
Connect America is an important piece of a larger FCC program, Universal Service Fund, which seeks to provide telecommunication access for rural, isolated and low-income communities as well as public schools, libraries and healthcare providers.