FCC’s ‘Connect America Fund’ Aims to Expand Rural Access to High Speed Internet

On Thursday, The U.S. Federal Communications Commission formally launched the new “Connect America Fund” or CAF.

The fund was recently created, the FCC says, as part of “once-in-a-generation reform” of the Universal Service Fund.

And the effort is a laudable one, according to proponents of the plan.

Last October, the Commission unanimously voted to reform and modernize USF to help connect every American to high-speed Internet by the end of the decade, just as the Fund did for telephone service in the 20th century.

These reforms cut waste and imposed strict fiscal responsibility standards on the Fund, preventing it from growing beyond its current size. Now, up to $300 million in savings from these and prior reforms will be targeted to quickly extend high-speed Internet to up to 400,000 previously unserved homes, business and anchor institutions in rural America.

“This is the first phase of funding from the CAF,” the FCC says. “Carriers have 90 days to accept the funding, as well as the aggressive buildout requirements that must begin in the coming months.”

The Commission expects that carriers will likely supplement the CAF funding with private investment. While carriers are not required to participate, hundreds of thousands of Americans will gain access to broadband even if carriers only accept a portion of the money.

Are you in support of the FCC’s “Connect America Fund”? Please weigh in with a thought or comment below.