FCC proposes $9bn fund to boost rural connectivity in the US

Published: 3 April 2020 - 11:13 a.m.

The US’ Federal Communications Commission has proposed the creation of a $9 billion fund to extend 5G networks into rural communities and hard to reach areas across the country.

The cash would be used to target rural and sparsely populated areas where timely deployment of 5G services would not normally be a commercial priority for telcos.

The FCC will vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its forthcoming Open Meeting on the 23rd of April 2020.

“5G promises to be the next leap in broadband technology, offering significantly increased speeds and reduced latency,” said FCC chairman, Ajit Pai.

“The 5G Fund for Rural America focuses on building out 5G networks in areas that likely would otherwise go unserved. It’s critical that Americans living in rural communities have the same opportunities as everybody else.”

As part of its recent merger with Sprint, T-Mobile has agreed to provide 99 per cent 5G coverage to Americans within 6 years and 90 per cent coverage for those living in rural areas. However, the FCC fears that those people living in economically unviable areas could be left to the back of the line when it comes to rolling out next generation mobile connectivity. The 5G Fund is intended to incentivise US telcos to provide connectivity in these areas.

"The FCC is proposing to use Universal Service Fund support to make sure that rural Americans are not left behind. Building on the success of the Connect America Fund Phase II auction and the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction, the FCC is proposing to award funding for 5G services through a reverse auction,” the FCC said in a statement to the press.

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