The FCC said Wednesday that almost 400,000 people and small
businesses in 37 states will get access to high-speed Internet within the next
three years as the FCC transitions phone subsidies to broadband.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced the first phase
kickoff of the Connect America Fund, which has a goal of connecting 7 million unserved
rural Americans to the Internet within six years and all 19 million unserved by
That first phase will combine $115 million in public funds
with "millions more" in private investment, says the commission.
"Today's action is just the beginning of our efforts to unleash the
benefits of broadband for millions of homes and small businesses in unserved
rural communities across the U.S. In today's economy, broadband is a
vital platform for innovation and opportunity, including jobs, education, and
healthcare," said the chairman.
That migration is part of the commission's reform of the
disbursement side of the Universal Service Fund. Next up will be reforming the contribution
The announcement of the benefits of that migration come
after several weeks in which Congress has pressed the FCC on complaints from
smaller, rural telecom carriers about losing traditional telecom funding in
that move to broadband, some of which they had used to secure loans from
another government agency, the USDA's Rural Utilities Service.