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FCC announces $1.2 billion fund for rural broadband deployment

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced more than $1.2 billion in funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to expand broadband service to 32 states. The FCC calls it “the largest funding round yet” and notes that 23 broadband companies will provide service to more than one million new areas.

Additionally, the FCC has also introduced the Rural Broadband Empowerment Planwhich will double the number of audits and checks performed this year compared to 2021. It will also require the FCC to publicly release the results of checks, audits, and speed and latency tests on the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) website.

“The new Rural Broadband Accountability Plan will streamline our auditing and verification processes while making the results of audits, audits, and latency tests publicly available for the first time,” the FCC Chairman wrote. , Jessica Rosenworcel, on Twitter. “These safeguards will ensure that program providers are doing their job.”

The pandemic has only amplified the connectivity gaps plaguing rural America, as employees shifted to working from home and children attended classes virtually. To help solve the problem, President Joe Biden approved a $1 trillion infrastructure package in November that allocates $65 billion to provide broadband to every American home. The FCC also launched a program that provides cheaper internet to low-income households late last year.

In December 2020, the FCC awarded companies a total of $9.2 billion under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and that included an $886 million grant for SpaceX. The Elon Musk-owned company was supposed to deploy its satellite internet network in rural areas, but last year the FCC warned SpaceX and other providers to stop misusing those funds to provide services to people. well-connected areas.