FCC to propose $8 billion rural broadband expansion plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to propose and vote this week on an $8 billion plan that will expand high-speed, fast-access Internet to underserved cities across the United States. The plan will actually be a reallocation of funds the FCC already has in place for telecommunication companies, which subsidizes telephone service for rural areas, and modernizing it into also supporting broadband Internet. Most of the money that will be looked into will come from the Universal Service Fund which is paid off by fees on users' phone bills which then helps pay the cost of providing services to more isolated areas.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to make his speech for action to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation later today followed by a vote tomorrow. The content for his speech has already been made aware of by The New York Times, however.

In his address, Genachowski will argue that the the Universal Service Fund is "unsustainable" because it was "designed for a world with separate local and long-distance telephone companies, a world of traditional landline telephones before cellphones or Skype, a world without the Internet — a world that no longer exists." He will suggest consolidating the Universal Service Fund into a new Connect America Fund which will endow companies to provide broadband Internet service to rural areas, even though the current fund helps subsidize Internet costs in public schools and libraries. Right now, the plan is only outlined to expand broadband through wired connections but the FCC says it will look into seeing if wireless connections make more sense to expand high-speed Internet.

According to the Associated Press, the new FCC rules could also help lead the way for cable companies to begin acquiring money from the fund.

“At the end of this transition, we would no longer subsidize telephone networks; instead we would support broadband,” Genachowski will say but according to the new anticipated guidelines the FCC expects the fund transition to take place during a period of years until a broadband replacement for telecommunications services is found.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Neowin Member Reviews: Logitech Harmony 300i Remote

Next Story

Verizon iPhone can be jailbroken

31 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I remember 9.6K and downloading the Beta of Win2K from MS with a 56K modem; it took four days. The good, old days.............

Fritzly said,
I remember 9.6K and downloading the Beta of Win2K from MS with a 56K modem; it took four days. The good, old days.............

Why didn't you just have a friend with broadband burn it to CD for you - or better yet, order it from MS? And then there are the local MS reps. They reminded me of a dying Sonic the Hedgehog the way they showered crowds with Beta and Demo CD's/DVD's.

These same idiots think that 1.5 down and .3 up is broadband.
Wireless = useless to most! except email checkers. Lag you to sleep.

Crucify said,
These same idiots think that 1.5 down and .3 up is broadband.
Wireless = useless to most! except email checkers. Lag you to sleep.

That is broadband. You don't redefine the definition of the base when something new comes out. If you are old enough, you remember the days of the 256k modem being high speed internet. One of these days we will switch to "ultra band" or something of that nature. For now, everything faster than dial up is just broadband. Or are you saying a 56k dial up connection is not a dial up connection because 256k exists?

Really? I understand maybe it'd be reasonable for underserved cities like small cities or towns, but seeing "rural" I hope that does not indicate the boonies. Especially if they plan to lay only wired connections for now.

It'd make more economic sense to go wireless in rural places, instead of laying out lines for only a few. Plus laying out lines would only encourage more sprawl like highways did, which would in turn be a drain on infrastructure to lay out resources to accomodate those that are all spread out willy-nilly.

My house, which is about 2 miles from civilization and 10 miles from the nearest town of 1000+, will be getting a fiber line as a result of the stimulus bill next year. My current DSL line is 5Mbps, and this new fiber line is suppose to increase it to around 20Mbps. While I welcome the faster internet, but I don't think we need to be spending money that America doesn't have!

Recon415 said,
I'd honestly love to get more than 1.5 mbit.

I'd wager that you could get it, but you're simply unwilling to pay what it'd cost to provide service to your area at this time.

Neb Okla said,

I'd wager that you could get it, but you're simply unwilling to pay what it'd cost to provide service to your area at this time.


And you would quickly lose that wager. In my town, 80% of the infrastructure cannot support more than a 1.5Mbit connection to every house. The fastest available to the other 20% is a 6Mbit connection. Those are business lines and the only homes that can access them are the ones that are close to the business hubs. Those are the fastest DSL lines here. The fastest cable offering, .5Mbit.

Jaybonaut said,
Why do I get the feeling that ISPs will never get around to bringing broadband to my very own parents...

Would I be right in guessing that your parents chose to live in an area with such low population density that it's economically insane to invest in the infrastructure required to provide your parents with broadband?

Neb Okla said,

Would I be right in guessing that your parents chose to live in an area with such low population density that it's economically insane to invest in the infrastructure required to provide your parents with broadband?

Economically insane? Let's see, we can invest minimal amounts in DSL technologies, almost nothing in cable technology, or just keep charging people $35 month for dial up on the old antiquated copper that is costing a metric s&!t ton of cash to keep up. Or we could upgrade, using the billions given to us by the American people in the Telecom act of 1996.

I can hear the laughter at Verizon and AT&T from my house.

Here in Columbus Ohio, Ameritech was so far ahead of Verizon it wasn't funny..they get swallowed up by the "deregulation craze" and all the work they did was stopped within months of the takeover and all hail AT&T...14 years to break up, 12 years to become more powerful than they ever were before.

blahism said,
lame..

especially after being raped after the first broadband plan doing nothing but padding corporate coffers

The sad thing is that when you hear people chatting about it they'll say "I support this, because I want to help rural people access the Internet."

The thing is, noting stops any one of us from giving money to such a charity right now if that's what's truly how we wish to seek personal satisfaction.

What people really mean is that they want to force their friends and neighbors to support the things they wish to have supported. It's a lot easier to advocate expendature of tax dollars than it is to convince a friend to donate to a charity you hold dear.

Draje said,
I thought the US was in massive debt.

Projects like these create revenue. Besides, 8 billion is **** in an ocean compared to what our military spending budget has been.. and how much of our money has gone missing in Iraq & such during the "rebuild."

Caleo said,

Projects like these create revenue. Besides, 8 billion is **** in an ocean compared to what our military spending budget has been.. and how much of our money has gone missing in Iraq & such during the "rebuild."

Actually, projects like these redistribute revenue.

Also, just because 8 billion is minuscule in comparison to money in the state's war, it shouldn't be ignored. Even so, I understand your perspective and completely agree that the military's spending is complete ****.

Caleo said,

Projects like these create revenue. Besides, 8 billion is **** in an ocean compared to what our military spending budget has been.. and how much of our money has gone missing in Iraq & such during the "rebuild."

And robbing banks creates revenue too. Let's all start doing that! Oh, and breaking windows to create revenue for glaziers!

Interestingly, one of the main arguments from the right on fighting lots of wars is to create revenue. I'm sensing a pattern of shortsightedness...

Draje said,
Actually, projects like these redistribute revenue.

What could possibly go wrong with centralized state redistribution of wealth?

As much as I want to like this, I hate the idea of tax money going toward lining pockets of greedy ISPs that have been regressing if anything (introducing bandwidth caps, traffic shaping, generally cable isps doing things to try to preserve their cable TV offerings by making it harder for people to utilize streaming media online).

What I'd like to see if Verizon FIOS & other fiber optic services expanded across the nation. I'm in Virginia which is one of the most FIOS-saturated states in the US, but they don't have it here in Roanoke (city in the west of Virginia). These services typically come without caps because they were built on networks ready for current & future traffic, and NOT by companies whose main source of income is Cable TV.

Caleo said,
As much as I want to like this, I hate the idea of tax money going toward lining pockets of greedy ISPs that have been regressing if anything (introducing bandwidth caps, traffic shaping, generally cable isps doing things to try to preserve their cable TV offerings by making it harder for people to utilize streaming media online).

What I'd like to see if Verizon FIOS & other fiber optic services expanded across the nation. I'm in Virginia which is one of the most FIOS-saturated states in the US, but they don't have it here in Roanoke (city in the west of Virginia). These services typically come without caps because they were built on networks ready for current & future traffic, and NOT by companies whose main source of income is Cable TV.

I'm not too far from you as in fast driving distance to Roanoke, but my only decent option is Comcast - I'd love to move away from where I'm at but if I do get into a area that is nice enough to have some land at decent prices I will be stuck with dialup or sat internet and we all know that won't work. So for now I'm watching for homes for sale and land for sale in area's that comcast has coverage - I'd kill for Verizon to lay Fios in this area to branch DSL from.

Caleo said,
As much as I want to like this, I hate the idea of tax money going toward lining pockets of greedy ISPs that have been regressing if anything (introducing bandwidth caps, traffic shaping, generally cable isps doing things to try to preserve their cable TV offerings by making it harder for people to utilize streaming media online).

What I'd like to see if Verizon FIOS & other fiber optic services expanded across the nation. I'm in Virginia which is one of the most FIOS-saturated states in the US, but they don't have it here in Roanoke (city in the west of Virginia). These services typically come without caps because they were built on networks ready for current & future traffic, and NOT by companies whose main source of income is Cable TV.

Don't forget that Cable companies ( Cox, Charter, Comcast, Turner ) and old telco companies like Verizon or MaBell DO NOT compete for broadband in the same cities/neighborhoods. This is why you do not see fair pricing, they have had back room deals done to prevent this and to keep profits way up!

Oh and don't hold your breath that when they take that money from us that they will expand anything. Knowing the government, they will not have any teeth behind the bill to prevent it.

Read that as undeserved. I was like, what?

I'm interested in the wireless aspect of this mentioned. Probably something along the lines of 3G (4G) in peoples homes.