FCC adopts $20.4 billion plan to fund rural broadband


The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to move forward with a $20.4 billion plan to boost broadband in rural America.

The FCC announced the beginning of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, money that will be doled out over a 10-year period. It will target areas without access to 25/3 Mbps broadband service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the new fund the FCC’s boldest step yet to ensure all Americans have equal broadband opportunities.

The first phase will begin later this year with $16 billion being awarded in a competitive reverse auction.

The FCC says it will use a “granular broadband mapping approach” to determine which areas are eligible.

“America’s electric co-ops are optimistic that the auction rules will lead to meaningful expansion of broadband access in rural America,” National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson said in a statement.