FCC launches broadband subsidies for 1 million rural customers

03 May 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has offered subsidies to carriers to deploy faster broadband connectivity to rural customers.

The deal specifies that the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau will give the proposed subsidies to 516 rural incumbent carriers across 46 states. In return, these carries will be required to stick to a detailed timeframe in which they have to deploy broadband at speeds of at least 25Mbps with downloads speeds of 3Mbps to homes and businesses funded by subsidy.

Should all 516 carriers opt into the offer, it will result in the deployment of high-speed internet to more than 1,000,000 homes and businesses.

The FCC has said that the plan will place further pressure of the carriers that do not into the plan, which will use a newly formed cost model instead of the current legacy system. Under the old rules, legacy carriers were only required to deploy 10/1Mbps broadband to just over 115,000 locations; speeds of 25/3Mbps were not required.

“Bridging the digital divide that separates many Americans from digital opportunity is the FCC’s top priority,” said the FCC in a statement. “Because of the high cost of deploying and operating broadband networks in rural areas, the FCC provides support through its universal service programs so that high-speed Internet will be available and affordable in rural communities.”

The Commission modernised its rules for rate-of-return companies using he Alternative Connect America Cost Model. The model calculates the support required to provide its services and delivers that support over a period of 10 years with a defined build our schedule.

Earlier this week Motherboard reported that the FCC sent letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint questioning its data selling practices.

The four carriers have been accused of selling real-time location information from customers devices to data aggregators. In the letters, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is asking the heads of each company to provide the Commission with details of such practices and ultimately how they intend on safeguarding its customers.